Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Standard breeds and varieties of...
 Starting a turkey enterprise
 When to start the turkey proje...
 The brooder house
 Preparing the brooder house
 Equipment needed
 Selecting the brooder
 General instructions
 Week by week brooding operations...
 Confinement ring
 Range rearing
 Management of turkeys on range
 Feeding turkeys on range
 Feeding turkeys
 Disease control and prevention
 Information forms

Group Title: Poultry Science mimeo series
Title: Turkey production in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00094231/00001
 Material Information
Title: Turkey production in Florida
Alternate Title: Poultry Science mimeo series - Florida Agricultural Experiment Station ; PY70-5
Physical Description: ii, 22 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Voitle, Robert Allen, 1938-
Douglas, Carroll R ( Carroll Reece ), 1932-
University of Florida -- Dept. of Poultry Science
Publisher: Poultry Science Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1970
Copyright Date: 1970
Subject: Turkeys -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Turkey industry -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "February, 1970"--P. 1
Statement of Responsibility: R.A. Voitle and C.R. Douglas.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094231
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 318793985

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front cover
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
        Page 1
    Standard breeds and varieties of turkeys
        Page 2
    Starting a turkey enterprise
        Page 3
        Page 4
    When to start the turkey project
        Page 5
    The brooder house
        Page 6
    Preparing the brooder house
        Page 7
    Equipment needed
        Page 8
    Selecting the brooder
        Page 9
        Page 10
    General instructions
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Week by week brooding operations for turkeys
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Confinement ring
        Page 15
    Range rearing
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Management of turkeys on range
        Page 18
    Feeding turkeys on range
        Page 19
    Feeding turkeys
        Page 20
    Disease control and prevention
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Information forms
        Page 23
        Page 24
Full Text
Poultry Science
Mimeo Series No. PY 70-5


JUL 1 8 1972

.F.A.S. Univ. cf Florida

R. A. Voitle and C. R. Douglas

Poultry Science Department
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida

. > >'">

Julian Stephen Moore



This publication is dedicated to the memory of Julian Stephen Moore

who served as Extension Poultryman at the University of Florida for almost

20 years before his death, November 29, 1969. Mr. Moore was a pioneer in

the development of the state's turkey industry and worked closely with the

major turkey producers.

Before coming to the University of Florida in 1950, he had been with

the Poultry Department of the University of Georgia, the Georgia Agricultural

Extension Service and had managed the poultry unit of a commercial farm

at Hamilton, Georgia, which specialized in turkey production.

A native of Goldston, North Carolina, he received degrees at North

Carolina State University and the University of Georgia.

During his service at Florida, Mr. Moore worked with the Florida

National Egg Laying Test and all other phases of the state's poultry

industry. He was the author of a number of publications in the poultry

industry and was coordinator of the Annual Florida Poultry Institute.

The basis of this publication was an earlier publication by Mr. Moore,

and was initiated at his suggestion.



Dedication . . . . . . . . . .. .... . ii

Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . .

Standard Breeds and Varieties of Turkeys . .

Starting a Turkey Enterprise . . . .

Contracts. . . . . . . . . .

When to Start the Turkey Project . . . .

The Brooder House. . . . .. . .

Preparing the Brooder House . . . . .

Equipment Needed . . . . . . . .

Selecting the Brooder. . . . . . .

General Instructions . . . . . . .

Week by Week Brooding Operations for Turkeys

Confinement Ring. . . . . . . .

Range Rearing . . . . . . . .

Management of Turkeys on the Range . . .

Feeding Turkeys on Range. . . . . ..

Feed Cost. . . . . . . . ..

Feeding Turkeys. . . . . . . . .

Disease Control and Prevention . . . .

Information Forms

S. . . . 2

.. .

. 3

. 4

. 5

. 6

. 7

. 8

. 9

. 11


. 15

S. 16

S. 18

. 19

S. 19

. 20

. . . . . . 21

Poultry Science Department of Poultry Science
Mimeograph Series No. PY 70-5 University of Florida
200 Copies Gainesville, Florida 32601
February, 1970


R. A. Voitle* and C. R. Douglas*

The number of turkeys produced annually in Florida reached a peak of

460,000 in 1959. Since that time production has averaged 250,000 per year.

This does not include the sale of poults or hatching eggs which, it is

estimated, double the above figure. Annual production in Florida represents

less than 20% of the turkeys consumed in the state. The figures indicate

that there is an unusual opportunity for individuals with the desire, the

know how, and sufficient financing to grow turkeys successfully in Florida.

The major advantages favoring turkey production in Florida are:

1) housing and brooding costs are less due to the mild climate; 2) the well

drained sandy soils, typical of Florida, are an invaluable aid in the

prevention and control of diseases; 3) the mild winters are excellent for

maintaining breeding stock; 4) data from egg and broiler production in the

State of Florida indicate that producers can expect better feed conversion;

5) there is an excellent nearby market; and 6) the tourist and heavy

marketing seasons coincide.

There are some problems associated with entering turkey production in

the state and perhaps the most pressing problem is the lack of adequate

commercial processing facilities. The larger producers have overcome this

problem by putting in their own processing plants. There is also a general

lack of experience in growing turkeys on a commercial scale. In addition

there may be more problems associated with raising capital for a turkey

enterprise than for Florida's more established animal industries. Finally

*Dr. Voitle is Assistant Poultry Physiologist for the Florida Agricultural
Experiment Stations and Dr. Douglas is Assistant Extension Poultryman for
The Florida Cooperative Extension Service.


Florida is a grain deficit area and seasonal purchases of feed grain must

be made to remain as competitive as possible.

Standard Breeds and Varieties of Turkeys

Seven standard domesticated varieties of turkeys are recognized by

the American Poultry Association. These are: Bronze, Beltsville Small

White, Narragansett, White Holland, Black, Slate and Bourbon Red. In

addition, a number of other varieties and commercial strains have gained in

popularity in recent years. Commercially the Broad Breasted strains and

the Beltsville Small White are the two most important. The typical weights

of the more important varieties are as follows:

Admitted to Variety1 Hen Tom
Standard YG YE A YG YE A

1874 Bronze 16 18 20 25 33 36
1874 Narragansett 14 16 18 23 30 33
1874 Black 14 16 18 23 30 33
1874 White Holland 14 17 18 25 30 33
1874 Slate 14 16 18 23 30 33
1909 Bourbon Red 14 16 18 23 30 33
No Broad Breasted Bronze 18 20 22 32 38 41
No Broad Breasted White 18 20 22 32 38 41
1951 Beltsville Small White 11 12 13 19 22 23

YG Young, YE =-Yearling,.A = Adult

Several non-standard varieties and commercial strains exist.

The added weight of the Broad Breasted strains is due to more fleshing

on the breast and thigh. The relatively shorter shanks and broader breast

give the Broad Breasted variety the appearance of a more blocky conformation

than the upstanding Bronze. The Broad Breasted Bronze has the same general

color pattern as the standard bred Bronze. At present the term "Broad Breasted"

is limited to a variety with members having a breast at least 32 inches wide

at a point 1 3/4 inches above the keel when selected for breeders.


The Beltsville Small White turkey was developed at the U.S.D.A.

Agricultural Research Center at Beltsville, Maryland to fill the needs

of the average family for a small size turkey.

All of the varieties and strains have been subjected to continuous

genetic selection by commercial breeders, in an effort to improve their


Starting a Turkey Enterprise

Success in the turkey enterprise depends upon careful planning,

adequate facilities and a sound program of management.

The first and most important step in planning that must be taken is

to establish a market for your birds. Secondly, and of almost equal import-

ance, is to ensure that there are adequate processing facilities. Thirdly,

evaluate your production facilities, augment and update them as necessary,

keeping in mind that sophisticated equipment is not always the answer to

efficient production.

Only now should attention be turned to the strain of turkey to be

selected. The turkey that is selected will depend on which strains)

possess the type, size and color best suited for the market that will be

supplied. In addition, the availability of the strain and the closeness

of the hatchery should be considered.

Now that a strain has been selected there are several ways you can

start the production end of your turkey enterprise: 1) purchase breeding

stock; 2) purchase hatching eggs; 3) use the mature birds you have on the

farm as the basis for your breeding flock; 4) purchase day-old turkey poults.

The latter method is probably the most likely to lead to success and may

be the most economical.

If breeding stock is purchased, obtain only the very best. These

breeders should come from a producer who has a pullorum and fowl typhoid

clean, well bred, healthy flock of proven production. In the case of

hatching eggs, there is the danger of a poor hatch, poor quality poults,

or both, particularly if one has not hatched turkey eggs before. If it

is planned to use birds presently on the farm as foundation stock, select

them carefully and have them tested for pullorum and fowl typhoid. Keep

only the best ones.

If it is decided to purchase day-old poults, they should be ordered

several weeks in advance of delivery date. It is very important to get

the very best turkey poults available. These should be purchased from

a reliable breeder hatcheryman who has a well established pullorum and

fowl typhoid clean flock. The breeders in this flock should have been

carefully selected for fast growth, conformation, uniformity, early maturity

and lack of pin feathers at market age, and should possess a minimum of

undesirable characteristics. The poults should be hatched in a hatchery

under the best of sanitary conditions. Success or failure with turkeys

can depend upon the quality of poults that are started. Secure poults

as nearby as possible so they can be delivered and started on feed and

water quickly in order to reduce the number of "starveouts".


Turkeys may be produced independently or under contract. Contracts,

when they are available, fall under two major headings. One is the risk-

sharing type of contract where the grower and contractor divide the profits

in proportion to the contributions of both. The second type guarantees

the producer a definite price per pound or per poult raised with bonuses

for outstanding performance, as measured by feed efficiency, growth rate,


Contracts should always be written; this is merely good business.

Read the contract carefully before you sign it and be sure you understand


every point. The advice of an attorney with experience in poultry contracts

is invaluable. Every detail of the agreement should be spelled out completely,

even those points that seem obvious to you.

In general, returns are greater to the independent producer with private

financing; however, if financing is a problem or you wish to share your

risk, contract production may be the solution.

When to Start the Turkey Project

The large Bronze and White Broad Breasted turkeys mature between 17

and 24 weeks of age. The hen of these varieties will mature in 17 to 20

weeks and.the tomn in 21 to 24 weeks. Beltsville Small Whites should be

marketed between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Sexed poults can be purchased

to take advantage of these differences. In addition. slightly better weight

gains can be obtained by separating the sexes, either on range or in con-

finement. More efficient gains can also be obtained by formulating a

feed especially for males and one for females after they are 12 weeks

of age.

Since the majority of turkeys are produced for the Thanksgiving and

Christmas market, they should be started at a time that will have them

finished and in good condition for these markets. The months of April

and May are the ideal months to start turkey poults. The weather at this

time is usually good and the birds get off to a good start before extremely

hot weather. In addition, they should be in prime condition for the holiday

market. Poults can be started in June but they get off to a slow start;

the mortality of late poults is usually much higher than earlier poults

and they will not be in prime condition for the holiday market.

In addition to the mature whole and deboned bird market, at least

two other turkey markets exist. One is the turkey fryer that is marketed

around 12 weeks of age. A second turkey parts, i.e., halves and quarters.


These latter two markets are ained at the smaller families (1-2 people)

which prefer smaller portions. It appears that these latter two areas

offer the greatest possibility for expansion for the "bone-in" turkey

market. The market is already there for an aggressive individual with

marketing ability.

The Brooder House

Florida's mild climate makes turkey brooding much less of a problem

than in most other areas of the country. Almost any type house that can

be heated, ventilated, kept dry and is rodent and bird proof, can be used

as a brooder house. Battery brooders can be used to start poults; however,

the poults will have to be transferred to a brooder house at 10 to 14 days

of age.

Brooder houses can vary in size from one large enough to accommodate

only 100 birds up to houses for several thousand poults. If brooder

houses are to be constructed, they can be built along the same line as

brooder houses for chickens. Some existing houses on the farm might be

converted for use as brooder houses. Old tenant houses, barns, and even

machine sheds may be used. The important thing is a house that can be

heated, is rodent proof, bird proof, that will provide ventilation without

drafts, can be kept dry and is easily cleaned.

Modern brooder houses are approximately 30 feet wide and long enough

to accommodate the number of birds you wish to raise. Allow 1 to 1

square feet of floor space per bird. Only the very experienced producer

should use the 1- square foot figure as more problems arise in the more

densely populated houses. The building should be designed with ease of

clean-.out a prime consideration.

If it is planned to raise turkeys from brooding to market time in


confinement, the building should be of the open pole-type construction.

Plastic curtains or removable panels can be used during the brooding

period to retain the heat and to eliminate drafts. If birds are to be

grown to mature market weight in confinement, 3 to 6 square feet of floor

space should be allowed per turkey, depending on the strain and sex.

The birds may be raised either on conventional litter floors or

raised floors (wire, expanded metal, slats, plastic). Disease may be

easier to control, the house can be kept more sanitary, feed efficiency

will be better and weight gains may be better (especially to 12 weeks

of age) on raised floors; however, odors, drafts, breast blisters and

general management present more of a problem than is found on conventional

litter floors.

Preparing the Brooder House

No matter what type house or method of brooding is used for the

raising of poults, sanitation and cleanliness are absolute necessities.

In preparing the brooder house, large or small, move out all equip-

ment and thoroughly clean, sweep down the walls and ceiling, clean out

all litter, dust and dirt that may be in the house and deposit it well

away from the house. Wash the entire house with hot lye water (one can

to 10 gallons of water) or a commercial cleaner disinfectant made for this

purpose. Rinse the house with clean water, allow to dry and then spray or

paint the house with any good disinfectant (lye water may be used again).

Hard to reach areas, such as the ceiling, must be given special attention

as dust from these areas will soon recontaminate a "clean" house. New

houses should be washed down and disinfected alsq as it is dust (so

prevelant in new houses) that harbor many disease causing agents.

All of these cleanout operations should be completed at least two

weeks ahead of the poults' arrival. This helps break any disease cycle


and allows time for the walls and floor to dry. If raised floors are used,

clean these in the same manner as the rest of the house. If litter is used,

spread it 4 inches deep over the entire floor. Round out all of the corners

of the brooder room, or hang feed bags in the corners to discourage piling.

See that there is adequate ventilation and that it can be controlled.

Equipment Needed

Provide one brooder per 300 poults 600-700 chick-capacity). Do not

brood more than 300 poults in one unit.

The following minimum feeder space should be allowed for each 100


a) First two weeks 16 linear feet* + two filler flats or feeder

b) During third and fourth weeks 24 linear feet.

c) During fifth and sixth weel 32 linear feet.

d) During seventh and eighth weeks- 40 linear feet.

The feeder lip should be kept adjusted to the height of the turkey's

back at all times.

The following minimum drinking space should'be allowed for each

100 poults:

a) First two weeks 3 linear feet or 2 one gallon founts.

b) During third and fourth weeks- 6 linear feet or 4 one gallon

c) During fifth through eighth weeks- 8 linear feet or 2 five gallon

A corrugated cardboard or metal guard (min. 18" high) should surround

each brooding unit.

Linear foot one foot of feeding or watering space, i.e., a four foot
trough open on both sides has eight linear feet of space.


Selecting the Brooder

Electric, gas, oil or coal brooders can be used where turkey poults

are brooded on the floor. The brooder selected depends upon availability,

cost of fuel and ease of operation. Electric brooders are easy to operate

and control; however, they do not heat the entire house, but heat only

that portion under the hover. Moisture tends to collect where an electric

brooder is used and this results in damp litter in the house, unless the

house is well ventilated. Where electric current is available and reason-

able in price, it would pay to investigate the use of electric brooders in

Florida. Gas brooders are in use all over the country and have proven very

satisfactory in turkey brooding. They will give ample heat when necessary,

yet the temperature can be adjusted easily. There is little fire hazard and

in most cases they are economical to operate. As with electric brooders,

the ventilation of the house must be controlled to prevent the accumulation

of moisture. Oil brooders are easy to regulate and fuel can be easily

secured. However, there is always the fire hazard with oil-type brooders.

The coal-type brooder is impractical under Florida conditions. Select the

brooder that is most suitable for your operation.

Set Up the Brooder House 24 Hours Before the Poults Arrive

The brooder stove should be carefully checked and should have

maintained a constant temperature of 950 for at least a 24 hour period.

Check the thermometers to insure their accuracy.

If litter is used it should be highly absorbent, nonpalatable, mold

free, relatively dust free, low in cost and readily available. Cover the

litter with cloth bags or some similar material. This will prevent the

birds from eating the litter. Do not use smooth paper as spraddlee legs"

are a problem in turkeys and the condition is greatly aggravated by placing

10 -

the birds on a smooth surface. Place the brooder guard (confinement ring)

approximately 3 feet from the edge of the hover when the poults are started.

The guard should be solid (cardboard or sheet metal is good) except in

hot weather when a wire guard may be used. The purpose of the guard is to

keep the poults near the source of heat for the first few days, to prevent

drafts in cold weather and to prevent poults from piling in a corner.

Arrange feeders and waterers in a spoke-like fashion within the circle to

allow poults to move in and out from under the hover without going over the

top of feeders. Place the water founts (water jars) on boards to help

keep out litter and never place them near any light under the brooder.

The poults tend to go toward the light and will sometimes upset the jars.

Distribute the filler flats or feeder lids evenly in the open area and

cover the center section of them with feed. This practice will reduce

the number of "starveouts".

It is most important that all of the above procedures be finished

well in advance of the poults' arrival (24 hours is recommended to allow

ample time for last minute details). When the brooder house has been

set up as described above, only then is one ready to place the poults

under the brooder. It is an excellent idea to dip the beak of the poults

into the water and then into the feed as they are taken from the box and

put under the brooder. This may seem a little old fashioned; however,

if poults don't find feed and water shortly after hatching, a large number

will starve, resulting in heavy financial losses. The poults should be

placed under the brooder as soon as possible after hatching. Some growers

use colored feed or brightly colored marbles in feed and waterers to attract

poults. Grass clippings or other similar material sprinkled on the feed

have also proved very effective in reducing "starveouts". Some poults

may have to be force fed; however, considering the investment in only

11 -

one poult you will want to use every method known to get them started


You must guard against your turkey poults piling, especially around

sundown. Rounding the corners in the brooding area or hanging feed sacks

in the corners will reduce losses in this area. Often piling may result

when the poults are uncomfortable. If piling is a problem, check the

adjustment of the brooders and the ventilating system. Check brooder

temperature two inches above the floor at the edge of the brooder.

Suggested brooding temperatures are 950 F the first week and reduce the

temperature 50 F per week until 70 F is reached (providing environmental

temperatures will permit). Maintain 700 F until heat is no longer required

(about 5 to 6 weeks in the summer and 8 to 10 weeks in the winter).

Check the poults 2 to 3 times during the night for the first few

days. If they are comfortable they will be evenly distributed in the

brooding area. If they are too hot they will move to the edge of the

brooding area and if they are too cold they will huddle in the center.

In this respect the actions of the poults are the better-indicator of

proper brooder temperature than a thermometer.

Use dim all-night lights during the brooding period with a light

under each hover. This also will reduce crowding and piling.

General Instructions

The first week of life is the most critical period for the poults.

As much as 50% of the total mortality may occur during this period.

Most of this is attributable to poor management. The two major con-

tributors to this mortality are "starveouts" and piling. A little extra

attention to these problem areas will pay handsome rewards.

Daily cleaning of the waterers is a recommended practice. Encourage

12 -

the poults to use automatic waterers as soon as possible; however, do not

remove all the founts (water jars) until every bird is regularly using the

automatic waterers. A good practice is to gradually begin removing the

founts on the second day and relocating the remaining founts closer to

the automatic units.

The brooder guards can be removed on about the seventh day and the

floor covering on the fourth or fifth day. In cold weather it is sometimes

wise to enlarge the guards to include two to three stoves from the seventh

to tenth day. If all birds have found feed and water at the time the guard

is removed the filler flats and founts may also be removed; however, the

birds should be observed carefully for evidence of "starveouts" for the

next few days as there may be a second peak of mortality at this time.

Keep feeders full for the first 7 to 10 days. The feed wastage

during this period is a small price to pay for the reduction of "starveouts".

Rid the house of rats, holes, sharp objects, bright spots, wet spots

and open containers. A little care in these areas will, again, pay handsome


Debeaking is recommended only in flocks where cannibalism is a problem;

however, once a problem does develop, the birds should be debeaked at once.

Stop-pick salves and home remedies are a poor substitute for proper debeaking.

Do not debeak at day of age as this will increase your problems with "starveouts".

Wing clipping or notching may be used to help confine birds on the

range but is not considered necessary in confinement rearing. If it is

decided to reduce the -ability to fly, notcthiig a the wing is the

recommended procedure. This method will reduce the number of downgrades

in processed birds.

Desnooding is an unnecessary expense unless you have experienced

problems in this area before. If it is decided to desnood the birds, it

- 13 -

should be done at hatching.

It is recommended that all birds be vaccinated for fowl pox at 6 to

8 weeks of age and again 6 to 7 months later under normal conditions

(immunity in turkeys is only about 6 months). In the advent of large

mosquito populations, it may be necessary to vaccinate earlier than

6 to 8 weeks; consult your veterinarian. Vaccination programs against

Newcastle and other diseases should be regarded as individual problems

and the advice of a local veterinarian should be consulted as to the

advisability of additional vaccination programs.

A wise producer will examine his birds periodically throughout the

growing period to determine their condition. If their progress is not

satisfactory the marketing date should be adjusted to compensate for either

an over or under fleshed bird.

Week by Week Brooding Operations for Turkeys

First Week.- The temperature can be dropped from 950 F to 90 F by

the end of the week. Remember, it is more important to watch the actions

of the poults than it is to watch the thermometer. If the poults crowd

together under the hover, not enough heat is being supplied. If the poults

move to the outer edge of the brooding area, too much heat is being supplied.

If the birds are evenly distributed over the area, are busy eating and

drinking, they are comfortable and the temperature is correct. You should

make it a practice to visit the brooder house every hour or so the first

few days to see that everything is in order. It is especially important

to visit the brooder house at night during this early period. Use dim:

lights all night.

Change the filler flats as they become soiled. On the third day

turn the sacks covering the floor or put in new sacks. The sacks may be

- 14 -

washed and used again. On the fourth or fifth day the sacks may be

removed. Begin to remove the filler flats and founts on the second

day. Relocate the remaining ones closer to the permanent units to

encourage their use. Do not remove all of the filler flats or founts

until every poult is using the permanent units.

Second Week The temperature can be dropped from 900 F to 850 F

by the end of the week. Watch the action of the poultsl Remove the

brooder guard and give the poults the run of the house. In cold weather

enlarge the guards to include 2 or 3 brooders from the seventh to tenth

day. When the brooder guard is completely removed it is very important

to watch the poults to see that they do not stray away from the heat,

feed or water or that they do not pile up. Poults are very bad about

piling. They have a much greater tendency to pile and crowd than do

chickens. If the temperature is too hot or cold they will crowd. If

the sun happens to hit a spot in the brooder floor they will go toward

this light. If this spot happens to be in a corner you will sometimes

have a number of poults smother from crowding. Do not leave open con-

tainers (feed buckets, etc.) in the brooder house. The curiosity of the

poults may lead them to jump down into such a container until the ones on

the bottom are smothered. They will also crowd behind a sack of feed

until some are smothered.

In litter houses place the waterers and even the feeders on a board.

This will help to keep the feed and water clean. _Stir the litter in

problem areas and watch out for wet spots and remove any wet litter

which may be a primary source of disease organisms. Wash and thoroughly

clean water founts each day. Keep the feed troughs thoroughly clean and

remove any damp feed, as feed troughs also harbor disease organisms.

Third Week The temperature can be dropped from 850 F to 800 F by

the end of the week. Watch the action of the poults. If mechanical

15 -

feeders are available the birds should be eating from them. Do not make

any rapid changes; always make changes gradually. Watch the litter;

remove damp or soiled litter and stir it.

Fourth Week. The temperature can be dropped from 800F to 75F by

the end of the week. Watch the poults. If hand feeding is practiced,

change to larger feeders. Continue to stir the litter and watch for

coccidiosis. Wet spots in the litter are ideal places for coccidiosis

to get started. See that the house is kept well ventilated. It will be

necessary to pay special attention to the poults between sundown and dark

to see that they are spread around the hover at night and are not attempting

to roost on the feed troughs or crowding to one side of the house.

Fifth to Eighth Week. The temperature can be dropped from 750F to

70F by the end of the fifth week. Leave the brooder at 70F for the re-

mainder of the brooding period. During the seventh and eighth week gradually

change from a starting mash or pellets to a growing mash or pellets. By

the eighth week you must have decided whether you are going to continue the

growing of the turkeys in confinement or move them to range.

Confinement Rearing

Turkeys of excellent quality can be raised in confinement. The same

building can be used to brood and to grow out the turkeys. Under good

management, mortality is usually lower than in range reared flocks.

Predators are no problem in a well constructed house. The use of auto-

matic feeders and waterers reduces the amount of labor required. This is

becoming a more important consideration in today's tight labor market. In

confinement rearing the minimum amount of land is required per bird, which

is an important consideration in today's rising land market. The three

16 -

main disadvantages of confinement rearing are: not enough information is

available on how to efficiently produce market turkeys in confinement;

building costs are higher; feed costs are higher than if the birds were

reared on improved pastures or grain fields.

If the birds are ranged on bare ground (free from vegetation) the

advantage in feed conversion would be lost, especially if wild birds

are a problem. Wild birds will also be a factor as disease carriers on

the range and in confinement rearing if the houses are not bird proof.

If you decide to grow turkeys in confinement allow 3 to 6 feet per bird

and continue the same feeding practices. Vaccinate for pox at 6 to 8

weeks of age.

Range Rearing

The range selected should be clean land on which no chickens or

turkeys have been allowed to range in the past three years. Allow at

least one acre of land for each 100 poults. To save feed and promote

growth the range should be seeded to some crop that will afford feed

and grazing. Crops that can be used to advantage with turkeys are corn,

peas, soybeans, peanuts, millet and milo. The range, in addition to

providing grazing and green feed, should afford shade and sunlight as

well as maximum protection from predators. The range should be well

drained and free from holes where water might stand and become stagnant.

Stagnant water and wet spots on the range are a source of disease organisms.

Equipment for the range need not be expensive. Portable shelters

that will provide protection from rain and sun is all that is needed

in the way of shelter. Some kind of shade on the range is essential.

A range with a patch of woods is the most desirable. In this case,

waterers, feeders, and shelters should be placed out in the open. The

turkeys will go to the woods for shade and will come out for feed and

17 -

water. The sunshine will help destroy disease germs and parasites that

might build up around the feeding and watering areas. During extremely

hot weather feed and water should be moved to shade to encourage the

birds to maintain an adequate intake of nutrients. When a large number

of turkeys are to be placed on range, portable feeders that will hold

at least 600 pounds of feed are to be recommended over snall feeders

that would have to be filled every day. The feeders should bec'designed

to give maximum protection from the elements. Provide 60 linear feet

of feeder space per 1000 birds.

Provisions must be made to supply plenty of drinking water. Waterers

should be easily cleaned and leak proof. Provide at least 36 linear feet

of watering space per 1000 birds. Turkeys will drink 2 to 2 pounds of

water for every pound of feed. Placing the waterers on a wire platform

reduces dampness and the possibility of disease outbreaks. If water has

to be hauled to the range, oil drums placed on skids and equipped with

a trough and a float valve may be used.

Protection of the turkeys while on range from predatory animals

and thieves is very important. Dogs and foxes, especially, can cause

heavy losses among turkeys. The use of lights at night is important.

Hang oil burning flares or other lights in the areas the birds sleep.

in. If oil burning flares are used, locate them so the birds will not

be burned. Steel traps on top of poles around the area are effective

in controlling owls. Electric fences can be used to confine turkeys to

the range as well as keeping predators out. They are economical and

easy to move. Two strands of wire spaced 10 to 18 inches from the

ground are sufficient. Use only approved types of electric fence chargers.

If a large number of turkeys are kept on the range, it is desirable that

someone stay near them during the day and provisions should be made for

- 18 -

someone to sleep near the range at night to guard against predatory animals

and thieves. Keeping a dog leashed near the range is another means of

reducing losses.

Management of Turkeys on the Range

The area to be used for range should have been seeded to some crop

that will furnish grazing. All equipment should be checked and necessary

repairs made before the turkeys are moved to the range. Use a few waterers

and feeders from the brooder house so the poults can gradually become

accustomed to the new equipment. The change from the brooder house to

the range is a drastic move under the best conditions. Records over the

years show that one of the high peaks in mortality comes at the time of

moving birds to the range. Everything possible should be done to make

this change as easy as possible. Check the birds often during the first

few days, especially at night.

Check the weeks weather report before moving the poults to the range.

Avoid moving the poults when the weather is threatening. Keep the poults

inside until at least 2 to 3 days of fair weather is assured. Even then,

it is best to move only part of the poults at one time. Move about 1/3

of the poults early in the morning; skip a day or two and move the remainder

of the flock. It will be much easier to teach a smaller group. When this

initial group has become accustomed to the new surroundings, the remaining

poults can be brought to the range. They will follow the more accustomed

birds. Always move the birds early in the morning so they will have the

maximum amount of daylight to become accustomed to the new surroundings'

The rotation of the turkeys while on range is important. Gradually

move them to new or clean areas. Don't let them stay in the same area

until it becomes contaminated. Don't attempt to move turkeys if the

19 -

weather is unusually hot. Watering down shaded areas will help prevent

losses from heat prostration.

Feeding Turkeys on Range

Large covered feeders on skids that are easily movable, and will

hold at least 600 pounds of feed at one time, will materially cut down

on the labor involved in feeding turkeys on the range. It is important

not to allow the feed to stay in the feeders so long that it becomes old

and moldy. By alternating the filling of the feeders, allowing one group

of feeders to be empty or almost empty each time before feed is put out,

the problem of old and moldy feed in the bottom of the feeder will be

eliminated. Good fresh feed at all times is important.

Feed Cost

Feed cost will make up 60% or more of the total cost of raising turkeys.

The feed required to grow a turkey to market size varies widely, depending

on the variety, time of hatch, feed used, management, type of range, age

marketed, disease and parasite control. High mortality late in the growing

season will result in a very high feed cost for the turkeys that survive.

Various feeding trials show that it requires 70 to 120 pounds of feed

to grow a turkey to market size. Where turkeys are grown on range, and there

is fair amount of green grazing available it will usually require from 90 to

100 pounds of feed per bird for the Broad Breasted Bronze variety, provided

they are marketed as they reach prime condition. If the turkeys have to be

fed several weeks after they are mature, the feed consumption will be much

higher. Below are listed typical growth rate and feed consumption figures

for the Broad Breasted Bronze.

20 -

Growth Rate and Feed Consumption of
Broad Breasted Bronze and White Turkeys (Tcms and Hens Combined)*

Age Weight 'Feed'
In Weeks Pounds Pounds

4 1.3 1.9

8 3.8 8.2

12 7.6 23.0

16 12.6 39.0

20 17.3 55.8

24 21.3 75.7

28 24.5 96.0

Turkey World, January, 1970.

Feeding Turkeys

Most turkey growers will want to use a complete feed. This may be

a feed purchased from a feed company, or one mixed on the farm.

Commercial turkey feeds are available both in mash and granulated

or pellet form. Granulated or pellet form feeds are preferred over mash

for range feeding.

Turkey poults are usually fed for the first 6 to 8 weeks on a 26 to

28% protein feed. At the end of this period the poults should be changed

to a growing diet containing about 22% protein. Such a diet can be fed

from this time until market time.

If grain, such as oats and corn, are available locally or can be

purchased from nearby states at an economical price, cheaper gains may

be obtained through the feeding of these grains in addition to the complete

feed. Usually the poults will begin to consume some grain at 7 to 8 weeks

of age. After the feeding of grain is started, poults may continue to eat

21 -

more mash than grain. As they get older they will gradually consume more

and more grain and less and less mash until by the time they are ready for

market they will be consuming much larger proportions of grain than mash.

As the weather gets cooler in the fall of the year, turkeys will start

eating more corn than oats. All feeds, whether mash, pellets, or grain,

should be kept before the turkey at all times.

In growing turkeys to market age the initial cost of the poults and

the cost of the feed to grow these poults will represent 70 to 80% of the

total cost of raising turkeys. Secure poults of superior quality that

will live well and utilize feed efficiently, feed well balanced diets

and do not waste feed by using poorly designed or damaged feeders. The

smallest number of pounds of feed per pound of turkey raised should be

the goal if a profit is to be made.

Disease Control and Prevention

Modern drugs, at best, are a poor substitute for good management. A

strict sanitation program is essential to good turkey production. Plastic

disposable boots are a good investment and everyone entering the farm

should be required to wear them. Rubber boots that are sanitized daily

can be used by the caretakers. Close observation of the sound management

practices outlined in this text is the best disease control program.

If a disease outbreak occurs you must determine its cause so the

proper medication, if there is one, can be started as soon as possible.

It is an unsound program to medicate without a diagnosis or professional

advice. If a disease problem develops, select birds representative of

the condition and send 8 to 10 to one of the Poultry Diagnostic labs in

the state. The following Poultry Diagnostic Labs are located in the

- 22 -

State of Florida:

Cottondale, Florida 32413
Box 37
Phone: 352-4461

Dade City, Florida 33525
Box 1031
Phone: 567-3277

Kissimmee, Florida 32741
Box 460
Phone: 847-3185

Live Oak, Florida 32060
Animal Health Laboratory
Florida Department of Agriculture

Miami, Florida 33101
Rt. 1, Box 437
Phone: 888-8238

Do not send cull birds unless they are typical of the disease problem.

Providing the information requested on the forms at the end of this text

is necessary for a correct diagnosis. This information should accompany

the birds submitted for diagnosis.

Immediately dispose of any dead birds using a disposal pit or preferably

an incinerator.

If the turkey enterprise is based on careful planning, adequate

facilities and a sound program of management, chances for success are

much greater.

(To accompany birds to Diagnostic Lab)

Poultryman' s name



Please advise me of diagnosis by: Letter Collect Call

Flock History

Source of Stock Pullorum Rating

No. of Birds in Affected Group Age No. Birds on Farm Age(s)

Age of Birds When Purchased

Date Symptoms First Noted No. Showing Symptoms

Mortality: No. Per Day Total to Date

Egg Production: Before Disease Now

Feed Consumption (lb. per day): Before Disease Now

Type of Feed % Protein

Source of Feed

Symptoms (describe)









Disease on nearby farm

recent Stress Factors

Excessive dampness

Other birds brought on farm



Faulty brooding equipment

Change in feed




Other disease


Drugs used in Treating This Condition___ _

In Water Injectable Level

Concentration Dosage

What Preventive Drugs Used? At Wh

For How Long .

Drugs Previously Used Da

En Feed

at Level


Vaccination History


Fowl Pox




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