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Raising Turkeys

Turkey, Rooster, Farm, Feathers, Chicken

The turkey is a large bird, native to North America. The name turkey was initially applied to the guinea fowl which was presumed to have originated in Turkey. However, the American turkey is a quite distinct species from the guinea fowl, though the name remained. It had been known as a”peru” in the 18th century. Some common breeds of turkey are: Narragansett, Bronze, White Holland, and Bourbon Red.

There are 3 stages in Raising Turkeys: the breeder farm, the hatchery and the turkey farm. The breeder farm is the place where the fish lays the eggs. These eggs are collected and delivered to the hatchery. In the hatchery, the eggs are kept in special incubators after cleaning. These incubators provide the right temperature and humidity levels for allowing the eggs to hatch. Normally, turkey eggs require 28 days to hatch. The baby turkeys, also known as poults, are stored in the hatchery until they are moved to the turkey farms. From the fish, the fish turkeys and the tom turkeys are reared separately. The poults should be fed properly and watched attentively, at least until they shed their down feathers and get the outer feathers. For this, they are put in climate-controlled barns which have soft flooring covered with straw or wood chips. They are fed on a soft powdered mixture of soybean, corn and wheat. Other nutrients such as barley, milk powder, meat meal, lime rock, salt, vitamin premix, methionine, lysine and insoluble grit can also be added. Adequate water should also be supplied.

These days, many improvements have been made in the genetics of turkeys. This has helped to increase the size of the bird with lesser feed and in lesser time. The white broad-breasted turkey has been the most common commercially raised turkey breed, since the 1960s. There are also different strains of the white broad-breasted turkey which are reared in different parts of North America. Turkeys are bred specially to have more meat in the breast and thighs. White feathered turkeys are usually preferred, since they do not leave any ugly pigment stains when plucked.

Turkeys take around 4-5 months to grow to full size. Birds less than 8 weeks of age are referred to as young turkeys. The hen turkeys take 16 weeks to grow completely, and average around 8 to 16 pounds in weight. The tom turkey takes around 19 weeks and weighs anywhere between 16 and 24 lbs. Larger tom turkeys may weigh up to 40 pounds. These take a couple more weeks to grow. A breeder tom turkey can generate up to 1,500 poults at a hen’s six-month laying cycle.

Turkeys are given a balanced diet comprising mainly of soybean and corn. This is also supplemented with minerals and vitamins. A 30-pound tom turkey (man ) requires around 84 lbs of feed an average. The cost of the feed is usually 2/3 of the total cost. The use of hormones for Raising Turkeys is banned. Sometimes, antibiotics are also given to turkeys to prevent diseases and to increase feed efficiency. The amount of antibiotics to be given and the withdrawal period are determined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service). The turkey’s wellbeing is inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or other state systems, and it might also be rated for quality. Turkeys that have been on antibiotics are not allowed to be processed for sometime before the residue of the medication has cleared from the body. Turkey farms are usually comfortable, providing shelter from harsh weather, predators, and disease.

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