Turkey Growout

Turkeys, like broilers and layers, are specially bred on a commercial level to exhibit all of the characteristics that make them economical to farm. Our Turkey eggs generally come from the US or Canada, and have a slightly longer incubation period of 28 days compared to 21 for broilers.

BROODING

On receiving your day old turkeys, it is critical that they be placed on clean, dry animal bedding such as wood shavings, diced paper or bagasse (crushed sugar cane pith) at least 2 inches deep. New bagasse should be 'seasoned' outdoors for several months to ensure that all residual sugar has been washed out or consumed by microbes, otherwise it might be contaminated with Aspergillosis fungi which can be fatal to baby chicks. Turkeys need special attention to bedding - flat sheets such as old feed bags or newspaper must not be used. Not only do they fail to absorb droppings, but the slippery surface causes 'straddled legs' which the turkeys have great difficulty recovering from and will become lame.

Water and feed are placed according to turkey volume, with 1 one-gallon water bottle and 1 feeder tray or some other shallow pan per 75 birds. Do not use open pans or trays for giving water to the turkeys as they will get wet, then huddle and trample one another. In pens with square corners, use card or wood to round off the corner and prevent the turkeys from bundling on one another and suffocating. They are extremely fragile in their early stages, and cannot survive excessively stressful situations such as trampling and bundling. We strongly recommend using feed that has been formulated for Turkeys (Turkey Starter, Turkey Grower) as some broiler feeds contain medications that can be lethal to young Turkeys even though they are preventative for the young broilers. If you are forced to use Broiler Starter where no Turkey feed is available, make sure you do not use a Broiler Starter that contains 'coccidiostats' or use one that states on the label that it is suitable for Turkeys.

Heat Bulbs (1 per 100 turkey poults, suspended 18 inches above the litter) are also critical - these are special high wattage bulbs that provide heat to the poults at night or during cooler weather. Please note that regular household bulbs are inadequate for providing heat. Gas Brooders are another method of providing extra warmth, and can be used in combination with the heat bulbs. To assist in saving energy costs, curtains are a good complement to heat sources as they prevent wind draughts from creating chills, and help to retain the heat in the pen.

VACCINATION PROGRAM

Turkeys should be vaccinated with Fowl Pox vaccine at 3 to 4 weeks of age, or as soon as the wing web is defined enough to identify the main vein running through its centre. Our personnel would be happy to advise you on the correct execution of this vaccination procedure should you require assistance.

SEX DETERMINATION & DEBEAKING

Feather Sexing
Turkeys are not generally sex differentiated at the Hatchery.

Debeaking
Debeaking, the process in which the tips of the beaks are trimmed to prevent 'picking' within the flock, was once common practise in Hatcheries as Farmers wanted their flocks free of picking behaviours that cause mortality. There are several methods of beak trimming, but the one most commonly used in our hatchery is 'Hot Blade' where a heated blade is used to trim and cauterise the beak in one step. Cauterisation (sterilisation of the wound) prevents further infection, but also destroys the tissue that is responsible for regrowth of the beak tip - if done properly, one beak trim will be sufficient for the life of the bird. As turkeys have a longer grow-out period than broilers, debeaking is a standard practise in the Hatchery before turkeys are delivered to our customers.