Feeding Backyard Turkeys

Before anything else, it has to be understood that feeding turkeys is a lot different from feeding chickens. Thus it is highly advisable that chicken feed shouldn’t be used as substitute for turkey feed. The protein and calcium requirements between the two kinds of birds are on completely different levels. Turkeys for instance, require higher levels of protein in their feed.

The technique of feeding turkeys is affected by various factors such as the age of the turkeys or the the way they are raised. Turkeys raised in customized coops have different feeding habits from those raised on the free range. Free range turkeys are commonly referred to as organic turkeys thus they can’t be feed with processed food and vitamins because these will take the organic attribute out of them.

There are four main stages in the process of feeding turkeys. It starts with a pre-starter feed, next is starter feed, then a grower feed and finally a maintenance feed. Just after hatching, turkey poults need utmost attention since they have to be assisted when they feed and drink. Often, they don’t know how to drink water or where the food is so it’s necessary to sometimes dip their beaks into the water or in the feeder to teach them so. Newborn turkeys cannot tend to themselves; thus, they need hours of hands-on care before they can feed and drink on their own.

In the pre-starter stage, the feed has to be well-pulverized to make it easier for the young turkeys to take. Often, the pulverized feed is mixed with substantial water for faster digestion and for more effective absorption of the nutrients contained in the feed.

Normally after eight weeks, it’s time to put aside the pre-starter feed and get on with a starter feed. Then four weeks after using starter feeds, it’s on to grower feeds. Make sure though that the grower mix has a 20% to 24% protein level for better and leaner meat. Along with the grower feed, other food like soybeans, grains, wheat, corn and rice may be included in the feed.

After fifteen weeks of feeding turkeys with pre-starter, starter and grower feeds, feeding ends with a maintenance feed commonly referred to as a finisher feed. Finisher feeds are usually mixed with fresh fruits and sometimes vegetables.

Besides feeds, turkeys also need certain vitamins and nutrients in order to maintain their health so, if necessary, add vitamins or minerals in their drinking water.

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