Raising Backyard Turkeys For Fun and Profit:

A Poultry Care Guide to Raising Turkeys

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Gobble, gobble, gobble! The turkey (Meleagris) bird—that iconic bird of Thanksgiving and Christmas—has been raised for hundreds of years. You can raise turkeys, too. They are one of the biggest forest birds in the world, with a wingspan of up to 6 feet. This can make them a formidable and eye-catching addition to your backyard poultry flock.

When you’re raising turkeys, you’ll find that they’re much different from raising chickens. For one, turkeys are huge and require proportionally greater amounts of feed. The average turkey will eat approximately 7.1 lbs. of turkey feed every week by the time it's ready for slaughter, reports Utah State University. That's a lot of turkey feed!

Similarly, people who raise chickens need to plan to provide their birds with a lot more room than chickens require. How much space do turkeys need in their coop? Plan to have a minimum of 6 square feet per turkey, recommends the University of New Hampshire’s cooperative extension. Of course, the more space you have, the better.

However, there are some similarities to raising other types of poultry. You’ll need to provide your baby turkeys with a brooder that keeps them warm until they have fully developed feathers. You need to provide your turkeys with lots of fresh, clean water. And you need to keep your turkeys shielded from the elements.

One important note, since we’re on the topic of comparing raising turkeys with raising chickens: Never raise your turkeys with chickens. Chickens can pass a deadly disease on to your turkeys, which can quickly decimate your backyard turkey flock.

Warning: Before you start preparing for the arrival of your new backyard turkeys, consult your local county or municipality to make sure your area is zoned for the raising of turkey fowl. Some areas restrict the husbandry of turkeys.

Got a question about raising turkeys in your home backyard? Send your question to one of our many poultry hobbyists who focus on raising turkeys on our free poultry forums and visit MyTurkeys.com for lots of complimentary guides on raising turkeys.