Turkey is a robust large bird raised mostly for meat and turkey farming is popular in US, Europe etc. However, turkey has good potential in our country, especially in the areas where people prefer lean meat. Naturally, low in fat and full of flavor, our turkeys are not only tasty but very healthy for you and your family. Foreign Turkey rearing should always begin with getting a good batch of either eggs or chicks from reputable suppliers only. If you have an incubator set up, you might want to acquire fertilised turkey eggs so that you can monitor their growth from the earliest possible time. However, if that is not possible, you might want to order in chicks from turkey farms or suppliers that you trust instead, you can get it from Kaduna, Ibadan and Owerri.
How you keep the turkeys and what you feed them with will inevitably have an effect on the end product and it is in your interest to produce as healthy and succulent a bird as possible. Correct feed is virtually important. Young turkeys require a higher level of protein (27-28 per cent) in the feed than chicks hence the need to begin life on turkey starter crumbs. They then progress to turkey grower pellets at around seven-eight weeks. It is as well to combine the feed for a few days to allow the birds to get used to the new introduction. Some feed manufacturers have a turkey rearer pellet for poults between five and eight weeks of age. This is very similar to grower pellets but smaller in size to allow the birds to get used to a pellet. When they are 16-17 weeks old, the turkeys will be put onto a finisher ration if they are to be table birds.
Some few years ago, the Nigerian government placed a ban on the importation of poultry products especially turkey (though it has been effective) into the country. This shows that a lot of Nigerians consume turkey meat. And despite the fact that the demand for frozen turkey meat is high, we don’t have enough large scale commercial turkey farms in Nigeria. According to a professionak in the field, foreign turkey farmers are mostly seasonal farmers and foreign turkey business is a sure way to walk out of poverty because at 16 to 18 weeks, it is matured and weighs up to 20kg, this bread he said, is from Europe and America and can go for 12,000.00 to 15,000.00 depending on your location of sales.
If raising turkeys commercially, there are around four different feeds to give the birds as they are grown from day-old to market: the starter, grower and finisher feeds.
Turkeys grown on commercial feed programs may grow faster but this feeding program will also produce good turkeys. Plenty of water, small grains, mashes and good pasture should be provided at all times.
Diseases and Cannibalism
Diseases can be controlled with proper care, isolation and sanitation. It has been said that turkeys look for an opportunity to die rather than living in bad conditions. Turkeys may suffer from coccidiosis, airsacculitis, fowl pox, typhoid/cholera and blackhead etc, which are caused by organisms specific to each disease. Isolation ensures that these organisms do not come into contact with these birds.
With turkeys, cannibalism is a problem but this can be avoided by providing enough space for the turkeys. A good remedy for cannibalism is de-beaking, which entails removing a portion of the upper beak and little of the lower beak, which can be done easily on young birds.
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