Raising Turkeys for Meat

Turkeys can be a profitable sideline business as long as special measures are taken to ensure the flock's health.

| March/April 1970

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    Raising turkeys requires a few special measures, but can produce a great return on your investment.
    Photo by Fotolia/Jolana Mayberg
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    A turkey pan should be protected by a wire guard. Construction prevents birds from contaminating water and enables you to water birds from outside.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    Ty Long feeding his turkeys. He says feeding lime takes only a few minutes when hoppers are conveniently placed outside cage and adequate to hold a week's supply of feed.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    Twelve or 13 turkeys should have a cage at least 10 feet by 12 feet with 12 feet of feed hoppers running along the outside. Roosts should be built in the sheltered end of the cage, using 2-by-4's with wide side as the roosting surface and allowing 14 inches space per bird. Top of roosts should be 20 inches from the wire floor and a space of 24 inches should separate one roost from another. Allow the birds complete access to the floor under the roosts, otherwise you cut their exercise area to the bone. A slanting roof of very heavy roofing paper and three sides of the same material (removed in above photo) should protect the roosting section.
    Photo by Ed Robinson

  • Turkeys
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When you start producing food for your family, money will begin to lose its importance. You won't be digging into your pockets every time you turn around. First, you will be producing a good part of your food and, secondly, you'll be trading your surplus with your neighbors.

For example, we trade geese for turkeys with one of our neighbors, Tyler Long. Tyler and his father have always had a hankering to raise turkeys. For a long time they just talked about it, then a couple of years ago they started in doing it.

Unlike a lot of people, including a few farmers I've met, they were frank with themselves in admitting to begin with that they didn't really know much about turkey raising. They determined to find out all about the newest and best ways of going ahead, start on a small scale. So they talked to any number of commercial turkey men, our county agent, and read everything they could get their hands on about turkeys.

Just to give you an idea of how well they've done, in 1942 the national turkey mortality rate from all causes was reported to be 28 percent. In 1943, when feed conditions were at their worst in 20 years, Ty kept his mortality rate down to 15 percent.



While it's true that scientific turkey raising requires certain precautions not always necessary in chicken raising, if a few general principles are followed with care, turkeys can be a surprisingly easy, inexpensive and interesting way of increasing your food supply. Turkeys incidentally, produce more meat per pound of feed than almost any other kind of poultry.

We say this after observing Ty Long's experience raising turkeys. In fact, we have gotten him to give detailed, week by week, instructions, explaining exactly how a family can scientifically raise a dozen or so turkeys.






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