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Full text of "Turkey raising"

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TURKEY RAISING 



BY 

HARRY M. LAMON 

SENIOR POULTRYMAN, BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY, UNITED 
STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

AND 

ROB R. SLOCUM 

POULTRYMAN, BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY, UNITED STATES 
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



Authors of 
'The Mating and Breeding of Poultry" 



ILLUSTRATED 



NEW YORK 
ORANGE JUDD PUBLISHING COMPANY 

LONDON 
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO., LIMITED 

1922 






COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY 

ORANGE JUDD PUBLISHING COMPANY 

All Rights Reserved 




PRINTED IN U. S. A. 



DEDICATED TO 

THE AMERICAN TURKEY 
KING OF DOMESTIC FOWLS 



PREFACE 

For the past twenty years there has been a general and 
more or less steady decrease in turkey production. And 
this in spite of the fact that no other branch of livestock 
returns as great a profit for the money invested and the 
equipment required. Recently, however, there has been 
a considerable awakening of interest in turkey raising 
and a growing demand for detailed information regard- 
ing this industry. 

It has been the purpose of the authors to provide in 
this publication the latest and most thoroughly reliable 
information on the subject for the use both of the raiser 
of market turkeys and of the producer of breeding or 
exhibition stock. In presenting this information it has 
been the authors' aim to deal with the subject thoroughly 
and in great detail and at the same time to keep the work 
so concise, simple and clear that it is of the greatest 
practical value either to the beginner or to one more 
experienced in turkey raising. 

Recognizing the high value of good illustrations in 
emphasizing the information given in the text, all phases 
of this book have been thoroughly illustrated. It is 
the confident belief of the authors that considered either 
from the standpoint of the completeness with which all 
phases of the subject are covered or of the excellence 
of the illustrations themselves, no equal set of photo- 
graphs on the subjects treated has ever before been 
gathered together. 



vi PREFACE 

The authors take pleasure in acknowledging their in- 
debtedness to the following persons for the valuable aid 
which they have given in the preparation of this book 

Prof. J. E. Dougherty 

Mrs. Elia Fowler * 

James Glasgow 

John C. Kriner 

Charles McClave 

Courtland H. Smith 

Further and more particular acknowledgment is due 
Andrew S. Weiant who was formerly the turkey and 
guinea specialist of the Bureau of Animal Industry, 
United States Department of Agriculture, and upon 
whose work and studies, both in the form of his pub- 
lished Farmers' Bulletins and otherwise, the authors have 
drawn heavily. Special acknowledgment is likewise due 
J. W. Kinghorne, Junior Poultryman, Bureau of Animal 
Industry, United States Department of Agriculture, for 
the thorough and painstaking manner in which he has 
indexed the book. 

For the period of the past ten years the authors have 
been privileged to work together in the closest relationship 
for the interests of the poultry industry of the United 
States. It is to them a matter of deep pride that during 
this time their first thought has always been to render 
a service to the poultrymen and women of their country. 
And it is with this same idea of service that they offer 
the present book to the poultry public. 

HARRY M. LAMON, 
WASHINGTON, D. C., 1922. ROB R. SLOCUM. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

HISTORY, EXTENT OF THE INDUSTRY AND OPPORTUNITIES . I 
A native American The Wild turkey The Hon- 
duras or Ocellated turkey Origin of the name, tur- 
key Extent of the industry Reasons for decreased 
production Opportunities for turkey raising Tur- 
key raising as a business for the farm woman 
Turkeys as insect destroyers Raising turkeys in con- 
finement Prices Prices of breeding stock. 

CHAPTER II 

VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 17 

Size Popularity of varieties General considera- 
tions in making the mating Making the mating The 
Wild turkey The Bronze turkey The Narragan- 
sett turkey The White Holland turkey The Black 
turkey The Slate turkey The Bourbon Red turkey 
Preparing turkeys for the show Catching and 
handling turkeys Shipping show birds and breeding 
stock Packing and shipping hatching eggs Judging 
turkeys. 

CHAPTER III 

MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 41 

Making a start Selection of the breeding stock 
Should turkeys be inbred? Age of breeding stock 
Preventing injury to hens in breeding Selecting and 
purchasing breeders Number of hens to a male 
Breeding yards Feeding the breeding stock Winter 
shelter for the breeders The breeding and laying 
season Locating stolen nests Care of eggs for 
hatching. 

vii 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER IV 

FACE 

INCUBATION OF TURKEY EGGS 67 

Period of incubation Methods of hatching Num- 
ber of eggs to set Nest for sitting hen Setting the 
hen Management of sitting hen Dusting the sitting 
hen for lice Hatching with chicken hens Hatching 
with an incubator. 

CHAPTER V 

BROODING AND REARING THE YOUNG STOCK 78 

Protection for the poults Rearing poults by arti- 
ficial means Feeding the poults Lice on poults 
Marking and pedigreeing turkeys Feathering of 
poults Shooting or throwing the red Distinguish- 
ing the sexes Management of growing turkeys. 

CHAPTER VI 
MARKETING 102 

Time of marketing Size of young turkeys Princi- 
pal markets and market demands Fattening turkeys 
Caponizing Selling turkeys alive Killing and 
dressing Packing Turkey feathers Dressing on 
the farm Shipping turkeys alive Market prices. 

CHAPTER VII 

INSECT PESTS, DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS . . . 124 
Lice Stick tight fleas or chiggers Diseases 
General disease preventive measures Blackhead 
Chicken pox or sore head Roup Limberneck 
Crop bound Worms Gapes Bumblef oot Diar- 
rhoea or bowel trouble Predatory animals. 

INDEX 147 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FIGURE FACING PAGE 

Frontispiece Turkey Tom Strutting. 

1. Wild Turkeys 4 

2. Flock of Turkeys Gleaning Shelled and Spilled Grain 5 

3. Turkeys Clearing Cotton Fields of Insects and Weeds 10 

4. Wild Turkey, Male n 

5. Bronze Turkey, Male 24 

6. Bronze Turkey, Female 25 

7. Wing of Bronze Turkey Tom 26 

8. Feathers from a Bronze Turkey Hen 27 

9. Narragansett Turkey, Male 28 

10. Wing of Narragansett Cockerel 29 

n. White Holland Turkey, Male 3 

12. Black Turkey, Male 3 1 

13. Black Turkey, Female 3 2 

14. Slate Turkey, Male 33 

15. Bourbon Red Turkey, Male 34 

16. Defective Feathers from a Bourbon Red Turkey . . 35 

17. Wing of Bourbon Red Cockerel 3^ 

1 8. Proper Method of Holding and Carrying a Turkey . 37 

19. Method of Packing Turkey Eggs for Shipment . . 3& 

20. Breeding Flock of Bronze Turkeys on Free Range . 39 

21. Showing How the Shingle or Paddle is Attached to a 

Turkey to Prevent It from Flying 52 

22. A Barrel Nest for Turkey Hens 53 

23. Comparison of the Size of Turkey, Guinea and Hen 

Eggs 76 

24. Enclosed Run for Turkey Poults ....... 77 



x LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FIGURE FACING PAGE 

25. Turkey Hen Confined to a Coop 82 

26. Turkey Shed Used to Shelter Hens and Their Broods 

During Rain Storms 83 

27. Turkey Roost Constructed in the Trees .... 98 

28. Flock of Turkeys Gone to Roost 99 

29. Pens Used to Confine the Turkeys During the Morn- 

ing 100 

30. Turkey Hens With Their Broods on Free Range . 101 

31. Turkey Capon at Six Months of Age 108 

32. Turkey Drive on the Way 109 

33. Woman Dry Picking a Turkey no 

34. Interior of Turkey Killing Establishment . . . . in 

35. Dressed Turkeys Ready for the Cooling Room . . 112 

36. Dressed Turkeys Packed in Barrels 113 

37. Dressed Turkeys Packed in Boxes 114 

38. Farmer Selling His Turkeys to the Highest Bidder . 115 

39. Live Poultry Transportation Car Loaded with Turkeys 120 

40. Weighing Up Live Turkeys as They are Unloaded . 121 



TURKEY RAISING, 

CHAPTER I 
History, Extent of the Industry and Opportunities 

A Native American. With its size, its majestic ap- 
pearance, its marvelous beauty of plumage and the most 
savory character of its flesh, the turkey may justly be 
termed the king of domesticated fowls. Moreover, on 
account of its place of origin and because it is the only 
native fowl of this country which has taken an impor- 
tant place among domesticated poultry, it is a bird in 
which Americans can feel a special pride and pleasure. 
The different varieties of domesticated turkeys as they 
now exist in the United States are undoubtedly a de- 
velopment from the native wild turkey of North America. 
Formerly the wild turkey occurred in considerable num- 
bers in the wooded portions of a range extending from 
Maine southward to Florida and from thence Southwest 
across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona into Mexico. 
As the country became more and more settled, the number 
of wild turkeys grew steadily less, until at the present 
time they are found in the wild state only in the more 
remote portions of their former range. 



*- TURKEY RAISING 
The Wild Turkey 

The species of wild turkey which occurred in this range 
is divided into four varieties. These varieties consist of 
the common or Eastern wild turkey, the Florida wild tur- 
key, the Rio Grande wild turkey and the Mexican or Mer- 
riam's turkey. The common or Eastern wild turkey ex- 
tended over the eastern part of the United States from 
Maine to Florida and in the large swamps of the gulf 
states to Louisiana. The Florida wild turkey is found 
in southern Florida. The Rio Grande wild turkey has a 
range extending over southern Texas and northwestern 
Mexico, while the Mexican or Merriam's turkey is found 
in the mountains of Arizona, western New Mexico and 
southern Colorado, south into Mexico. 

The common or Eastern wild turkey, the Rio Grande 
wild turkey and the Florida wild turkey are all quite simi- 
lar in color in that they have a brilliant bronze plumage 
and that the tips tc the tail coverts and main tail feathers 
run from a yellowish to a deeper yellowish brown or cof- 
fee color. In the Mexican wild turkey or Merriam's tur- 
key, the plumage is of a much darker bronze which is 
shaded with black, while the tips of the main tail feathers 
and of the tail coverts are white instead of yellow or 
brown. In respect to the white tips and to the general 
darker cast of plumage, the Mexican wild turkey corre- 
sponds more closely than does the common wild turkey 
to our domesticated Bronze variety and gives support to 



HISTORY, EXTENT OF THE INDUSTRY 

the belief that our domesticated varieties have arisen from 
the Mexican wild turkey rather than from any of the 
other varieties. 

It appears that the Spaniards on conquering Mexico 
found the Mexican wild turkey in more or less of a state 
of domestication among the Aztec inhabitants and that 
they sent specimens of this bird back to Spain. From that 
country it spread to other parts of Europe and was bred 
to a considerable extent so that later it was brought back 
by colonists to the United States and was the foundation 
from which our present varieties have sprung. It must be 
remembered, however, that infusions of the common or 
Eastern wild turkey blood have been made in the domestic 
varieties with considerable frequency. 

The Honduras or Ocellated Turkey. In addition to the 
species of wild turkey with its four varieties which has a 
large part of its range in the United States, there is an- 
other species of wild turkey known as the Honduras or 
Ocellated turkey, the range of which is confined to Cen- 
tral America, extending from Yucatan to Guatemala. 
This is a very beautiful and much more brilliant bird than 
the wild turkey of North America but has never been 
successfully domesticated and has played no part in the 
making of our domestic varieties. It is a considerably 
smaller bird. The neck feathers are a bronze black tipped 
with green, the breast feathers greenish black tipped with 
bronze, the back feathers bright green tipped with a bril- 
liant copperish bronze, the fluff blue with a black band and 



TURKEY RAISING 

tipped with a copperish red, the tail coverts bright blue 
with a black band and tipped with copperish bronze, the 
tail feathers silver gray with indistinct black penciling and 
with a blue eye edged with black located toward the ex- 
tremity of each tail feather, while the tip of the feather is 
copperish bronze. The feathers of the wing bow are 
bright green tipped with black. The wing coverts are a 
bright copperish red and form a beautiful band across the 
wing while the wing primaries and secondaries are barred 
with alternate dark and light bars similar to the same 
sections in our domesticated Bronze turkey. 

Origin of the Name Turkey. In view of the fact that 
the origin of the turkey traces clearly to North America, 
some may wonder how this bird obtained its present name 
which would suggest its origin as being Asiatic. The 
most logical explanation seems to be that given by E. 
Richardson. He suggests that the turkeys on being 
brought to Spain from the New World were handled and 
sold by the Hebrew merchants of that country. As the 
turkey was quite generally confused with and called pea- 
cock, it was natural therefore that these Hebrew traders 
should apply to it their name for the peacock or "tukki." 
More or less common use of this name followed which 
easily became in the English language our present name 
turkey. Such an explanation seems to be much more 
probable than that the name arose as a result of an erro- 
neous impression that the bird originated in or near 
Turkey. 




FIG. i. Wild turkeys. (Photograph front the Bureau of 
Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 




t? 



I'i, 



M-4 a 
ocq 



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HISTORY, EXTENT OF THE INDUSTRY 
Extent of the Industry 

Turkeys are now raised to a greater or less extent over 
practically the entire United States. The great bulk of 
these fowl, however, is found on the general farms 
throughout the Middle Western and Southern states. 
Formerly large numbers of turkeys were raised in New 
England and the northwestern part of the United States, 
but the turkeys coming from this section are now very 
greatly reduced in number. For the same reasons that 
the turkey production in New England has declined mark- 
edly so has there been a great reduction in the number of 
turkeys raised in the United States as a whole. The 
census of 1900 shows that there were in this country 
6,594,695 turkeys while 10 years later, the number had 
been reduced to 3,688,708. The census of 1920 reports 
3,627,028 turkeys or practically the same number as 
in 1910. But while the number has remained practically 
stationary, the value due to increased prices, has nearly 
doubled or from $6,605,818 in 1910 to $12,904,989 in 
1920. 

As shown by the census of 1920 Texas is the leading 
state in the production of turkeys. Other states fol- 
lowed in this order : Missouri, Oklahoma, California, 
Kentucky and Virginia. While the country as a whole 
showed a slight decrease in the number of turkeys from 
1910 to 1920, quite a number of individual states showed 
increases, particularly the mountain states, which nearly 



TURKEY RAISING 

doubled their numbers, and the Pacific states, which 
showed a very substantial increase. 

Reasons for Decreased Production 

The reasons for the decrease in turkey production are 
several. Probably the principal cause is the fact that as 
the population in any section of the country increases in 
numbers, there is a tendency for agriculture to become 
more intensive and the farms to become smaller. For this 
reason the amount of range suitable for the raising of 
turkeys is lessened. Then, too, where farms are close 
together, the ranging habits of turkeys cause them to 
work over the grain fields of adjacent farms and this is 
likely to cause ill will, for damage to the growing crops 
is attributed to them in a much greater measure than is 
deserved and no credit is given them for the beneficial 
effects of the insect destruction which they bring about. 
Many farmers have therefore given up raising turkeys 
rather than have this cause of trouble between themselves 
and their neighbors. Disease has likewise been quite a lim- 
iting factor in turkey raising. The mortality among the 
young turkeys, with the usual care which is given them 
on farms, runs high. Outbreaks of blackhead and of 
some other diseases are frequent and serious in certain 
sections of the country, and the losses resulting from 
these outbreaks have discouraged the farmers from at- 
tempting to raise turkeys. In some sections, also, pred- 

6 



HISTORY, EXTENT OF THE INDUSTRY 

atory animals, such as the coyote and fox, have had a 
great influence in discouraging turkey raising. 

There is another factor, not so generally recognized, 
but which, nevertheless, has had a decided effect in de- 
creasing turkey production. It is the fact that the care 
of the sitting hens and of the young poults during the 
first few weeks of their lives is a very exacting occupa- 
tion. If the greatest success is to be enjoyed, the raiser 
must expect to be ready to give the turkeys attention at 
any time of day that they may require it or in other words 
must be thoroughly on the job. The turkeys cannot be 
neglected during this critical period in order to make a 
trip to town in the automobile. In this day of modern 
living when it seems to become harder and harder to 
subordinate pleasure to business, turkey raising by virtue 
of the fact that it is temporarily exacting and confining, 
is not increasing in popularity as an occupation. For the 
person who is willing to devote the necessary time and 
attention and who will give the welfare of the turkeys 
precedence over his ease or pleasure, there is an excellent 
opportunity to make a splendid success in raising turkeys. 

Opportunities for Turkey Raising 

With turkeys a national institution as a holiday dish, 
particularly for Thanksgiving and Christmas and with 
the constantly decreasing number produced, there is an 
excellent opportunity for those who are favorably situ- 

7 



TURKEY RAISING 

ated to raise turkeys for profit. In the main, turkeys are 
produced as a small side-line upon the general farm. Even 
in those sections of the country where the bulk of turkeys 
is grown, it is usual to find flocks of not more than 50 
or 60 turkeys on any one place. In fact, the average 
flock is undoubtedly much smaller than this. In Texas, 
the banner turkey state, flocks numbering as high as 100 
to 150 are more or less common. In certain parts of the 
Southwest and in some sections on the Pacific Coast there 
are a few persons engaged in turkey raising on a larger 
scale, as high as 1,000 or more turkeys being produced in 
a year. Men on horseback are employed to drive these 
flocks out on range and to herd them. It must be remem- 
bered, however, that this is in a section where there is 
unlimited range and in a climate which is well suited to 
growing the young poults and where disease does not 
seem to develop to so great an extent. The semi-arid or 
irrigated sections of the West and Southwest because of 
their natural advantages will undoubtedly continue in the 
future to be the places where turkey raising in its most 
specialized form will be practiced. 

Grain and stock farms are particularly well suited for 
turkey raising and it is on such farms that most of the 
turkeys are found at present. For greatest success in 
this industry plenty of range is essential, and where this 
can be given, the turkeys will find large quantities of 
insects such as grasshoppers, quantities of green vegeta- 
tion, berries, weed seeds, waste grain, nuts and acorns of 

8 



HISTORY, EXTENT OF THE INDUSTRY 

various kinds which they eat readily and which makes 
the cost of raising them very small and the profits large. 

Turkey Raising as a Business for Farm Women 

Turkey raising is an agricultural activity especially 
adapted to the women of the farms. Their natural moth- 
erly qualities and the aptitude which they possess to at- 
tend to the details of caring for the young turkeys make 
them especially well fitted to raise the turkeys success- 
fully. Then, too, it is easier for them to give the turkeys 
the constant oversight and frequent attention which is so 
necessary during the brooding season, for the hens with 
their broods can be, and usually are, cooped near the 
house. For the woman who is successful in raising tur- 
keys, it would be difficult to find any other farm side-line 
which will yield a greater return. With prices as they 
have been during the last few years, a sufficiently large 
flock can be reared from 15 to 20 turkey hens to bring in 
$400 or $500 a year. The cost of raising turkeys is low 
since they pick up such a large part of their own living. 
About the only feed they need is that which is given them 
while they are young and the grain required to fatten 
them for the market. It is safe to say that no other kind 
of live stock can be raised so cheaply on the farm as a 
flock of turkeys nor is there any which brings a better 
price per pound. Even with high priced grain, turkeys 
given a good range can be turned off to market at a cost 



TURKEY RAISING 

not to exceed $i a head for feed consumed. The neces- 
sary investment for raising turkeys runs low both in the 
matter of breeding stock and equipment required. It is 
doubtful if any other kind of live stock requires as small 
an investment for the return yielded as do turkeys. 

A brisk demand will be found by any one having breed- 
ing stock of some pure variety for sale and this will 
greatly augment the possible profit. As an example of 
what may be accomplished it may be stated that a farm 
woman, a breeder of Bronze turkeys of fine quality, re- 
cently raised 200 turkeys in one season, and sold over 
$1,500 worth of stock, being compelled to refuse more 
than $500 worth of additional business. Most of her 
stock was sold for breeding purposes except 17 late 
hatched toms, which -were sold for slaughter on the local 
market early in February at 35 cents a pound, and for 
which she received a total of $109. 

A Missouri farmer and wife have sold for the past four 
years an average of more than $500 a year of market tur- 
keys. At no time did they have more than 15 breeding 
hens and sometimes not more than 12. 

Turkeys as Insect Destroyers 

In spite of the fact that insects, such as grasshoppers, 
which the turkeys pick up in ranging over the farm, 
form a considerable part of the diet of turkeys during 
the summer, the great value of these birds as insect 
destroyers is often overlooked. Much is said about 

10 




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FIG. 4. Wild turkey, male. (Photograph from the Bureau of 
Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 



HISTORY, EXTENT OF THE INDUSTRY 

the damage they do to growing crops and little or noth- 
ing about the good. As a matter of fact turkeys do 
little damage to crops under ordinary conditions where 
they can find an ample supply of the feed which they 
love to glean in their own way. But the loss which 
they prevent by the destruction of insects is often very 
considerable. Recently attention was called to the fact 
that in one farming community the only farmer who 
was successful in securing a yield of clover seed was one 
who had allowed a flock of turkeys to range in his clover 
field. In the same locality another farmer had his oats 
crop saved from grasshoppers by turning in a flock of 
turkeys to prey on the grasshoppers. A brood of turkeys 
when ranging through a field seeking their feed go about 
their work in a very systematic manner, often advancing 
in a line at distances apart just about great enough to 
enable them to cover all of the ground between one an- 
other as they advance. Not many grasshoppers get by 
this advancing line. 

Raising Turkeys in Confinement 

Most efforts to raise turkeys in confinement have not 
been very successful and it has generally been considered 
that to hatch and rear the turkeys artificially and to keep 
them under rather intensive conditions was impracticable 
and unprofitable largely for the following reasons : First, 
that exercise is essential to health and vigor. Second, 
that brooding the young poults artificially requires too 

II 



TURKEY RAISING 

much time and personal attention. Third, that with ordi- 
nary management it is almost impossible to keep down 
disease. Fourth, that an experienced feeder is required 
to feed turkeys in confinement successfully. It will be 
noted, however, that all but the first of these reasons can- 
not be urged against the person who has had considerable 
experience and who knows how to care for turkeys. In 
fact, enough instances are known of where turkeys are 
being raised by artificial methods and under restricted 
conditions to demonstrate that with proper care and at- 
tention this is possible, although it is not recommended as 
a general practice where greater range is available. Fur- 
ther details in regard to artificial methods will be found 
on page 85. 

Prices 

It is interesting to note the change that has taken 
place in the price received by producers of market turkeys 
for the last six years. It is also of interest to note the 
range in price according to the section of the country in 
which the birds are raised and put on the market. In a 
general way, the farther from the great consuming cen- 
ters the birds are produced, the smaller is the price re- 
ceived by the grower. The following table illustrates 
this well. 

Prices of Breeding Stock. As might be expected prices 
for breeding stock vary widely depending upon the ex- 
cellence of the birds themselves and upon the reputation 

12 



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I 



TURKEY RAISING 

of the breeder. Breeding hens can ordinarily be pur- 
chased for from $7 or $8 to $25 each, occasional birds 
bringing more than this. Breeding toms can be purchased 
for from $10 to $50 with some birds sold as high as $100. 
Turkey eggs for hatching when they can be bought at all 
sell for 50 cents to $1.50 each. Many turkey raisers, 
however, prefer not to sell eggs for hatching, feeling that 
they can make a greater profit by hatching a*nd rearing 
the young. 



16 



CHAPTER II 
Varieties, Mating and Showing 

Where turkeys are raised in the United States, the birds 
kept may be one of the standard varieties, various crosses 
between the standard varieties, or, somewhat rarely, the 
common or Eastern wild turkey. Standard varieties are 
those which are listed and described in the American 
Standard of Perfection.* The standard varieties consist 
of the following: The Bronze, the Narragansett, the 
White Holland, the Black, the Slate and the Bourbon 
Red. In referring to individuals of any of the standard 
varieties there are three separate classes of males recog- 
nized and two classes of hens. The males are adult 
cocks, that is, birds two years old or over ; yearling cocks, 
birds one year old and less than two; and cockerels, birds 
less than one year old. The female classes consist of 
hens, birds one year old or over; and pullets, birds less 
than one year old. Males of all classes are frequently 
referred to as toms or gobblers rather than as cocks or 
cockerels. The young turkeys of both sexes are gener- 
ally called poults. 

*The American Standard of Perfection is a book published by 
the American Poultry Association describing all the breeds and 
varieties of chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys recognized by that 
association. This book is the guide by which all poultry shows in 
the United States are judged. 

17 



TURKEY RAISING 
Size 

In size, the common wild turkey runs smaller than any 
of the standard varieties of domesticated turkeys. Wild 
hens usually range from 8 or 9 to 12 pounds in weight 
while the males may run as heavy as 20 pounds, although 
this is considered very good weight for a wild torn. It 
may be said in this connection that while the pure domes- 
ticated varieties are larger than the wild fowls, turkeys 
as commonly kept and bred on farms where many of them 
receive indifferent attention and where the variety may 
not be pure, often do not run much heavier in weight than 
the wild turkey. The following table gives the standard 
weights in pounds of the various ages and sexes of the 
domesticated standard varieties: 

Adult Yearling 

Variety Cock Cock Cockerel Hen Pullet 

Bronze 36 33 25 20 16 

Narragansett .30 25 20 18 12 

White Holland. 28 24 20 18 14 

Black 27 22 18 18 12 

Slate 27 22 18 18 12 

Bourbon Red.. 30 25 20 18 12 

As a rule the demand for breeding stock is for heavy 
birds, those heavier than standard seeming to be in active 
demand. The fact that the larger specimens seem to find 
favor over the smaller birds in the shows probably ac- 

18 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

counts for this. For this reason breeders are inclined to 
use their larger birds in their matings in order to be able 
to supply the demand. As a matter of fact the use of 
birds of extreme size cannot be generally recommended 
as it is much more likely to be associated with infertility, 
poor hatches and soft-shelled eggs than when more mod- 
erate sized breeders are used. In general it may be said 
that breeders but little if any larger than standard are the 
best size to use. 

Popularity of Varieties 

On account of its larger size and also the fact that this 
variety has, perhaps, been more carefully, more syste- 
matically and more extensively bred than any of the 
others, the Bronze turkey is the most commonly kept. 
Turkeys are sold by weight and for this reason the larger 
birds bring the greater returns. A good size bird is in 
demand where a considerable number of people are to be 
served as in hotels, boarding houses, etc. While there is 
a more widespread demand for a medium sized turkey for 
family use, the larger birds find a ready sale and in gen- 
eral it may be said that the production of heavier birds 
proves to be more profitable. 

It is quite a commonly held opinion that the Bronze 
variety is more hardy than the other domesticated varie- 
ties, due perhaps to the occasional introduction of wild 
blood in an effort to keep up the Bronze color. It is diffi- 
cult, however, to trace any real sustained difference be- 

19 



TURKEY RAISING 

tween the vigor and hardiness of the different varieties as 
these qualities and others differ to a marked degree in dif- 
ferent individuals and strains of the same variety. Proper 
management and proper breeding have much to do with 
the hardiness and stamina of the stock. It is claimed by 
some raisers that the White Holland lay more eggs than 
the other varieties and also that the White Holland and 
the Bourbon Red are inclined to be somewhat more do- 
mestic in their habits. 

Considerations in Mating 

It must be borne in mind that turkeys are kept for meat 
production, not primarily for egg production. In select- 
ing the breeders, therefore, it is essential that they pos- 
sess a type or shape of body which is consistent with meat 
carrying capacity. Select those birds which have a deep 
long wide body, a broad back, especially across the shoul- 
ders, and a round, deep, full breast which comes well for- 
ward. A strong well-knit frame is shown by birds which 
are of good bone, that is, which have thick sturdy shanks 
and with the legs perfectly straight and set square under 
the bird and well apart. Avoid any birds which are too 
long-legged, which are too narrow-bodied or in which the 
legs tend to be knock-kneed or to crook at the hock. 

It must also be kept in mind that birds which are in- 
clined to be short in leg, while they will often reach a 
greater weight the first season, are not the birds which 
will eventually develop into the largest specimens. It is 

20 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

well, therefore, to avoid breeders which are especially 
short in legs and to select those which are moderately 
long in legs but not too long. Avoid also as breeders any 
birds which are lop-sided or which have crooked breasts 
or crooked backs. The head should be of good size and 
length and of a clean healthy appearance. Avoid heads 
which tend to be too short. 

Certain differences in the head over those of the ordi- 
nary domestic fowl need comment. In the first place the 
turkey has no comb such as is found on the chicken, but 
does have a fleshy elastic proturberance extending out 
from the head above the base of the upper bill, and which 
when expanded to its full length hangs down beside and 
below the bill. This is referred to variously as the dew- 
bill or snout. The turkey does not have two wattles as in 
the chicken but has a single throat wattle extending from 
the underside of the lower bill part way down the throat. 
The head is devoid of feathers and both the head and 
upper part of the neck are covered with rough or caruncu- 
lated skin. There is some tendency for the caruncles of 
the males to be too smooth, that is not heavy or distinct 
enough so as to give a good masculine appearance. The 
color of the head and neck is red, which at times changes 
to a lighter or bluish color. 

Occasionally, turkeys occur which have more or less 
of a crest or tuft of feathers on the head. These are rare, 
however, and there is no breed or variety which possesses 
this characteristic. 

The back line of the turkey beginning at the base of the 

21 



TURKEY RAISING 

neck shows quite an even convex curve which is carried 
out also in the line of the tail which, unlike that of the 
ordinary domestic fowl, extends downward rather than 
upward. The tail itself should not be too closely folded 
but should show a fairly good spread both when closed 
and when extended or spread. 

Turkeys of both sexes show a tuft of coarse hair 
growing from the breast called the beard. This is longer 
and more prominent in the male than in the female. The 
feet should be of good size with strong well formed toes. 
It is necessary in this connection to avoid a duck-toed 
condition, that is to say, where the rear toe turns around 
to the side or toward the front. It is desirable to select 
birds with good bright eyes, because these birds are as a 
rule the strongest individuals in the flock. In some speci- 
mens there is a tendency for the back to be straight rather 
than curved, and it is necessary to avoid these straight- 
backed birds in breeding. Turkeys should have good 
strong wings of moderately good size in proportion to 
the size of the bird. Any tendency toward wings which 
are too long so that when folded the ends are carried up 
on the back and tend to lap should be avoided. 

In addition to the selection of birds on the basis of their 
general body type or shape it is of primary importance to 
make sure that the birds used for breeders are well ma- 
tured, which means early hatched, and that they are strong 
and vigorous individuals. It is also necessary in all of the 
standard varieties to select the breeders which approach 
as closely as possible to the standard or ideal in their color 

22 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

and markings. Too great care cannot be exercised in 
selecting the breeders, for poor results as exemplified in 
eggs which will not hatch or in weak poults or in small 
scrubby turkeys are often the result of carelessness in the 
selection of the birds for breeders. In general it may be 
said that turkeys breed quite true and that there will be 
less culls from the turkey matings than there are from 
most matings of chickens. This is probably due to the 
fact that turkeys are not so far removed from their wild 
ancestors nor have the different varieties been made as 
the result of such radical crosses. 

Making the Mating 

The Wild Turkey. The Wild Turkey is not a standard 
variety, nor is it kept in domestication to any great ex- 
tent. However, there are some breeders of the wild 
variety and the wild blood is in more or less frequent 
demand for the purpose of crossing with the Bronze 
variety. The object of crossing is to improve the vigor 
and vitality of the domesticated stock and also to improve 
the color or sheen of the Bronze variety. Wild turkeys 
should have a general plumage brilliance which is as 
great or preferably greater than that of the best Bronze 
turkeys. The wild variety, in addition to being more bril- 
liant than the Bronze, differs from it principally in the 
matter of the color of the edging on the tail feathers and 
the tail coverts. In the wild variety, this edging varies 
all the way from a deep red, cherry, chocolate or coffee 

23 



TURKEY RAISING 

color to a lighter shade which may be yellow or creamy, 
while in the Bronze variety, this edging should be a pure 
white. The introduction of wild blood in the Bronze 
variety can usually be detected by the fact that this edging 
is not pure white. 

When crossed with the Bronze, the wild turkey is more 
prepotent. In fact, it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell 
by the color a three- fourths wild bird from a pure wild. 
However, the crossing increases the size over the wild. 
Half wild gobblers are often used in introducing wild 
blood into the domestic turkeys. It was hoped at one time 
that crossing with the wild variety would result in greater 
immunity from blackhead, but this has not proven to be 
the case, and the pure wild variety seems to be about as 
subject to blackhead, at least under domestication, as any 
of the domesticated varieties. 

To most people the meat of the wild turkey is superior 
to that of the domesticated on account of its more gamey 
flavor. In a general way it may be said that the wild bird 
is a tighter, harder feathered bird than the domestic tur- 
key, and that it has a more racy appearance of body and 
is of a more restless, nervous temperament. These birds 
are very quick motioned and can run very rapidly and 
also fly very well. The egg of the wild turkey is smaller 
and more pointed than that of the domesticated varieties. 

There is quite a difference in the shade of coloring of 
wild turkeys from different sections of the country. The 
wild turkey from the extreme South seems to be some- 
what more brilliant in color than the birds farther 

24 




FIG. 5- Bronze turkey, male. (Photograph from the Bureau 
of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 




FIG. 6. Bronze turkey, female. (Photograph from the Bureau 
of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.} 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

North. In mating, therefore, it is necessary to be sure 
that the birds from the same general section of the coun- 
try are mated together rather than to use in the mating 
birds from different sections in which the coloration 
varies. Where birds from the same general section are 
used, the wild turkey breeds very true in color. However, 
birds must be avoided as breeders which tend to run light 
or mossy on the wings. 

The Bronze Turkey. As stated under the wild turkey, 
wild blood has been introduced to a greater or less extent 
into the Bronze variety. This has had the effect of spoil- 
ing the plumage color to some extent, especially in causing 
the white band at the end of the feathers to be creamy or 
yellowish brown instead of silver white. However, the 
^occasional introduction of some wild blood has been neces- 
sary in order to keep up the rich bronze color especially 
on the back. In a general way the Bronze variety may 
be said to be of a rich, brilliant, copperish bronze against 
a background of black and brown and contrasted by the 
clear white tips of the tail coverts and main tail feathers. 
The brilliancy of the plumage is usually greatest when the 
birds are two or three years old, improving in this respect 
over the younger birds. The brilliancy of the plumage is 
also greatest at the beginning of the breeding season. As 
the breeding season progresses some of the brilliancy is 
lost from the male plumage, and this is likewise true of 
the hens soon after they begin to lay. 

In selecting the breeders for the production of exhibi- 
tion stock, breed from birds with good open bronze bar- 

25 



TURKEY RAISING 

ring and with a good white edging of fluff. The fluff is 
likely to be the weakest section, but if the bird is good in 
fluff it is likely to be good elsewhere. The birds selected 
as breeders should be an even bronze color extending over 
the whole length of the back to the tail. Sometimes the 
back runs too dark or too near on the black, lacking the 
bronze. This must be avoided. The bronze bar on the 
feathers should be straight and extend across the entire 
width of the feathers. It should not show any tendency 
to be notched at the center nor should it fail at each side 
of the feather so that the bronze shows only in the center. 
A width of the bronze bar of a half to i inch depending 
on the section is good, but some breeders consider that the 
wider this bar the better. The bronze bar should be edged 
by a good black bar, and this in turn edged with a good 
distinct white end or edging in those sections in which a 
white end to the feather is called for. In the wings, the 
flight feathers should be distinctly barred across with 
alternate bars of black and white which should be equal 
in width and which should run as straight as possible 
across the feather. 

The white bars should be as free as possible from any 
black peppering. There should likewise be as distinct 
and clear cut a line between the dark and white bars as 
can be obtained so that the edging of the bars will not be 
irregular and so that the color of the dark bar will not be 
brown on the edge where the two colors join. There is 
also somewhat of a tendency for the white wing barring 
to be too narrow, which will cause too dark an appearance 

26 




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FIG. 8. Feathers from a Bronze turkey hen. (Photograph 
from the Bureau of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of 
Agriculture.} 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

of the wing. A tendency for the barring to run together 
in some cases and in other cases to be zigzag in shape, that 
is, not straight across the wing must be avoided. 

It is desirable to have the barring of one flight feather 
match or correspond with the barring of the next flight 
feather so that there will be a continuous or uniform 
series of bars across the flight feathers as a whole. Some- 
times the barring does not carry well across the narrow 
lower edge of the flight feathers and these sections tend to 
be largely white or brown. This defect is very objection- 
able. In some cases the tips of the flight feathers are apt 
to lack the white barring entirely. This is a defect which 
should be avoided. Sometimes, also, especially in males, 
one or more solid black flight feathers will occur. Avoid 
breeding from such birds as this is a disqualification and as 
they will sometimes produce a nearly black sport. The tail 
feathers likewise should show a good bronze bar followed 
by a black band and with a good wide silvery white edg- 
ing. A good spread of tail is also desired. There is more 
or less of a tendency for the bronze bar to be wanting, 
faulty, or scanty as the center of the tail is approached. 
In other words, the bronze barring may often be better 
on the outer tail feathers than on the center tail feathers. 

What is desired is bronze barring which runs even and 
uniform entirely across the tail. Below the bronze bar- 
ring the tail feathers should be barred across with brown 
and this brown should be arranged in as regular bars as 
possible so that the feathers appear to be penciled. Not 
infrequently the brown occurs as a more or less uniform 

27 



TURKEY RAISING 

stippling over these feathers and distinct bars are not 
formed. Sometimes also the main tail feathers are nearly 
black in color, being almost completely lacking in brown. 
Birds with such tail feathers should not be selected as 
breeders. Sometimes there occur near the base of the 
two center main tail feathers, and more rarely this is true 
of the four center feathers, white bars or penciling. These 
are a serious defect and birds possessing them should be 
avoided as breeders. 

In a general way it may be said that the plumage color 
of the male is always more brilliant than that of the 
female. Otherwise, the plumage color of the female is the 
same as that of the male except that she shows a white 
edging on practically all of her feathers. The more 
closely the brilliance of the female's plumage approaches 
that of the male the better. Young Bronze turkeys have 
legs which are quite dark in color, being nearly black but 
having some red in them. As the birds grow older this 
color tends to get brighter and to show more red. 

The Narragansett Turkey. In general it may be said 
that the Narragansett has much the same general color 
scheme as the Bronze turkey. Because the feathers end in 
a band or bar of white or gray this variety has a general 
color which is lighter than that of the Bronze. In this 
connection, however, it may be said that it is necessary 
to guard against birds which are washed out or too light 
in color. It is likewise necessary to guard against birds, 
especially males, which run too dark in color. Such males 
are likely to have solid black backs. In the wing, the pen- 

28 





FIG. 9. Narragansett turkey, male. (Photograph from the 
Bureau of Animal Industry, U. .S. Department of Agriculture.) 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

ciling or barring of the Narragansett should be just the 
same as in the Bronze. The wing bar, however, should be 
white where the bar on the Bronze turkey is bronze. This 
variety runs very good -with respect to the white edging 
of the feathers. While young birds will occasionally 
show creaminess in this edging, this almost invariably 
comes good and white in the second year. 

As in the Bronze variety, it is necessary to guard against 
solid black primary feathers which may sometimes occur. 
The Narragansett turkey should show metallic in its 
black but should have no indication of bronze barring. 
Sometimes Bronze birds are produced from a Narragan- 
sett mating, but these should never be used for breeding. 
When Bronze and Narragansett turkeys are crossed re- 
gardless of the direction of the cross, part of the offspring 
will be bronze in color and part Narragansett and there 
does not seem to be any particular blending of the two 
color schemes. 

The White Holland Turkey The White Holland 
should be a pure white throughout in both sexes. In this 
variety, however, both buff and black sometimes occur 
and it is necessary to guard against foreign color of any 
kind. Bronze and white splashed feathers sometimes 
occur in the fluff and back, and buff or black may occur 
on the body and occasionally in the primaries. Probably 
the greatest difficulty in plumage color is black flecking. 
This consists of very narrow black streaks or flecks rang- 
ing from very small in size to a quarter of an inch or even 
half an inch long, occurring especially in the feathers of 

29 



TURKEY RAISING 

the thigh, back, tail coverts and breast. This black fleck- 
ing corresponds to what is known as ticking in white 
fowls. White turkeys sometimes occur as a sport from 
the Bronze, and white turkeys also occur occasionally 
in a natural state as a sport from the wild turkey. It is 
undoubtedly from this sporting that the White Holland 
variety has arisen. As turkeys of this variety age there 
is a tendency for the pink leg color to fade and this color 
also fades in the female with laying. 

The Black Turkey. In this variety a plumage color is 
desired in both sexes which is a lustrous greenish black 
throughout. In other words, this should show a good 
clean black with a prominent green sheen. The tail 
coverts often shade to a brownish cast especially in the 
female, and this, of course, is undesirable. It is likewise 
necessary to guard against any bronze cast over the back. 
It is also necessary to guard against barred feathers or an 
edging to the feathers either of bronze or white. This 
white edging which occasionally occurs is especially likely 
to appear in the breast, neck and tail coverts. Not in- 
frequently young Black turkeys will show white tips to 
the small finishing feathers under the wings until they 
moult in as yearlings when this disappears. Young tur- 
keys are also quite likely to show white tips to some of 
the wing feathers but this disappears as the mature plu- 
mage is obtained. There is likewise a tendency in young 
birds for white feathers or bronze stripes to appear over 
the back, but such birds usually come out as good black 
birds when they get their mature plumage. When the 

30 




FIG. ii White Holland turkey, male. (Photograph from the 
Bureau of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 




FIG. 12. Black turkey, male. (Photograph from the Bureau 
of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

poults hatch they are almost half white, the breast being 
entirely white. When the first feathers appear they will 
also show more or less white, but they should moult into 
mature plumage entirely black. 

The Slate Turkey. This variety has also been called 
the Blue or Lavender turkey. In this variety the birds 
of both sexes should be of a slaty or ashy blue color 
throughout. However, there is a decided tendency for 
the plumage color to be flecked, ticked or dotted with 
black, but the freer the plumage is from this black ticking 
the better the birds are for breeding. There is also a 
tendency for a buff edging or lacing to occur in all parts 
of the body plumage which may cause a rusty appearance, 
and this must be guarded against. It is likewise necessary 
to guard against solid black feathers in the primaries or 
tail, or black in these feathers. Frequent lacing of buff 
or red, over the back and tail coverts especially, must like- 
wise be selected against. There is also a tendency toward 
a general washed-out appearance and birds showing this 
are not desirable as breeders. There is very little ten- 
dency for the plumage to show any blue lacing. 

When two Slate turkeys are bred together the resulting 
offspring may show quite a wide variation in color, some 
of them coming blue, some black, some very much on the 
Bronze and occasional birds which are nearly pure white. 
Very occasionally also birds occur in which the plumage 
is a bluish red or faded or dirty red over the back and 
tail coverts. There are very few breeders of Slate turkeys 
at the present time and no one seems to have tried breed- 

31 



TURKEY RAISING 

ing the black and nearly white offspring from Slate mat- 
ings together to see if they would produce all blue off- 
spring as is the case in the Blue Andalusian chicken. 
While there do not seem to be many breeders of Slate tur- 
keys, more or less Slates will be found in practically any 
flock gathered together for market. It is probable, how- 
ever, that some of these Slates occur as the result of the 
general crossing and mixing of varieties which is so often 
practiced by market turkey growers. 

The Bourbon Red Turkey. In color this variety 
should be a good deep red with white flights and secon- 
daries and with white main tail feathers. It is rather 
difficult, however, to get good depth of red color without 
more or less black throughout the plumage. This black 
occurs most commonly as an edging or lacing at the end 
of the feathers. In the fluff and in the undercolor of 
various other sections there may also occur a dim trans- 
verse penciling of black or dark. More or less black fleck- 
ing or ticking is likely to occur throughout the plumage. 
As there is a tendency for the plumage color to run too 
light in shade it is necessary to guard against a body 
color which is on the buff rather than on the red. There 
is quite a likelihood of more or less red occurring in the 
sections of the wing and tail which should be white. 

More than one-fourth red in any of these sections con- 
stitutes a disqualification but it is seldom that birds are 
disqualified for red in any of these sections. It is com- 
paratively easy to keep the primaries white, a little more 
difficult to keep the secondaries white, and still more diffi- 

32 




FIG. 13. Black turkey, female. (Photograph from the Bureau 
of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 




FIG. 14. Slate turkey, male. (Photograph from the Bureau of 
Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.} 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

cult to keep the tail white. If the bird has a good deep 
red body color there is a greater likelihood of more or 
less red or buff occurring in the white sections of the 
wings and tail. Red is more likely to occur in the main 
tail feathers at the outer sides of the tail while the center 
tail feathers are most likely to be clear white. 

i 

Preparing Turkeys for the Show 

There is not much that needs to be done in preparing 
turkeys for exhibition. Since birds of good size and 
weight are usually favored and because turkeys often 
shrink as much as 2 or 3 pounds during their shipment 
to the show it is necessary that they be in a good con- 
dition of flesh. This does not mean that they need to 
be especially fat, although turkeys are sometimes fat- 
tened to quite an extent in order to have their weight 
as high as possible when shown. Corn is as good a 
material as any to feed in preparing turkeys for the 
show so as to get them in good condition of flesh. If the 
birds are used to eating any good mash feed this can be 
used and will put them in condition quicker than corn. 
However, if they are not used to eating mash they will 
not take to it readily and will not eat it freely for some 
time, with the result that they will not condition as 
quickly. The birds should not be penned up in order to 
fatten them or get them in good condition of flesh. This 
is a mistake, as they will not eat well or do well when 
confined for any length of time. In preparing turkeys 

33 



TURKEY RAISING 

for the show it must be remembered that they are very 
loose-feathered birds and that it is very easy to pull out 
feathers. For this reason they should be handled as little 
as possible when getting them in condition. 

It is very desirable to coop the birds to some extent 
before they are sent to the show. This may be accom- 
plished by cooping them for several hours each day in 
coops of the same size as will be found in the show for a 
week or two before the show. It is best not to put them in 
the coops and keep them there continuously for any great 
length of time as they are almost sure to go off feed and 
go down in condition with such treatment. The coop in 
which they are confined for training should have a solid 
top or should have some covering laid over its top. If 
the top is of wire the birds will constantly jump up in an 
effort to get out and will worry and work until they injure 
their feathers. Where the top is covered or solid they 
will not make this effort and will more quickly become 
used to being cooped. About the only other treatment 
which the birds require is to see that their legs, feet and 
head are in a good clean condition. To accomplish this 
it is best to have one person hold the bird while another 
washes these parts. In the case of dark-legged birds such 
as Bronze turkeys, the leg color can be helped by rubbing 
with sweet oil or some similar substance. Vaseline can 
be used in place of the oil, but in this case it is particularly 
important that it be well rubbed in with a cloth so that it 
does not leave the legs sticky and in condition to gather 
the dirt. Scaly leg rarely occurs in turkeys, in fact prac- 

34 




FIG. 15. Bourbon Red turkey, male. (Photograph from the 
Bureau of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.} 







FIG. 16. Defective feathers from a Bourbon Red turkey show- 
ing black edging at the tips and also dark markings or pencilings 
across the feathers. (Photograph from the Bureau of Animal 
Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

tically never, unless they are hatched and raised with 
chicken hens or are allowed to roost with other poultry. 

Catching and Handling Turkeys 

With wild turkeys or with wild specimens of the 
domesticated varieties, perhaps the most satisfactory way 
to catch them is to use a net constructed of stout cord 
and of suitable diameter, so that it can be cast over the 
birds. Stand so that the bird to be caught has to pass 
between you and the side of the building or a fence. 
As the bird runs by place the net in its path so that it 
will run into the net. Let the net give before the advance 
of the bird rather than try to pull the net over the bird, 
as the latter practice is more likely to injure its feathers. 
When the turkey is in the net it cannot struggle to any 
extent. 

The left hand can then be inserted in the net, worked 
along the turkey's back until both wings can be grasped at 
their base or the point where they are attached to the 
body. The right hand can then be worked under the bird 
until it grasps both legs below the hocks. The left arm 
can then be thrown over the bird's wings and around its 
body in such a way as to support the bird and at the same 
time hold down its wings. In this position the bird can be 
carried under the left arm, the head facing back under the 
arm, the right hand grasping both shanks. In carrying 
the bird keep its legs straightened out as this will render it 
less likely to struggle. If it does try to struggle tilt its 

35 



TURKEY RAISING 

head down. In grasping the turkey about the base of the 
wings it is necessary to be very careful, as a rough grasp 
here is likely to strip off the feathers. If the birds are 
more or less tame they can often be worked into a corner 
of the house or yard and caught with the hands grasping 
them by the wings close to the body, then working the 
left arm around the body as described before. 

It may also be necessary to catch turkeys from the roost 
at night or some other time. In doing this approach 
them if possible from behind and grasp a leg with each 
hand, being sure that the hand is below the hock. If they 
are grasped above the hock the feathers at this point are 
very apt to be stripped off. As soon as the legs are 
grasped swing the turkey clear of the roost so that when 
it flaps its wings, they will not be bruised or broken. As 
soon as it has stopped flapping its wings, throw the left 
arm around the body and over the wings and carry as 
described before. Where turkeys are intended for market 
they are sometimes rendered incapable of struggling 
either by locking the wings over the back or by tying the 
legs together. Neither of these practices is advised as it 
is somewhat cruel. It is better to place market turkeys 
as soon as they are caught in the coops in which they are 
to be shipped. 

Shipping Show Birds and Breeding Stock 

Ship birds which are intended for the show in single 
coops. If two birds are shipped in the same coop and 

36 




~ 



be ^ 

cx c a 



<u o 




8 
1 

O 

-s: 



& 

J* 



c ^ 

rt -^ 

II 

O Q 

J3 *, 



- 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

without partitions they will not arrive in as good con- 
dition as if shipped single. The bird should have plenty 
of room so that it can stand erect and be comfortable 
but should not be given room enough so that it can turn 
around in the coop. For a good sized gobbler a coop 
30 inches high will be necessary. Not over 16 inches 
of width should be allowed as this will keep the bird 
from turning around. If the coop is 2 feet wide the 
bird will be constantly turning and will injure its plum- 
age in doing so. The sides of the shipping coop should 
be solid. If the sides are slatted the turkey is apt 
to be frightened by anything which passes by. The top 
of the coop should be slatted in order to provide good 
ventilation, but additional ventilation in the sides near the 
top is desirable in order to allow for the possibility of 
something being piled on top of the coop, thus shutting 
off the ventilation from that source. Coops for smaller 
gobblers or for hen turkeys can be built proportionately 
smaller according to the size of the bird. 

In shipping breeding stock a distance of not over 200 
miles, a coop 2 feet high and 12 to 14 inches wide will be 
large enough for a mature gobbler. If they are to be 
shipped further than this as much room should be allowed 
as would be given where the birds are shipped to the 
show. For short shipments no feed or water should be 
provided. If the birds are to be over two days on the 
road, however, a dish for water must be fastened to the 
inside of the coop and a supply of feed shipped with the 
coop so that the express agent can feed the birds. 

37 



TURKEY RAISING 

Packing and Shipping Hatching Eggs 

Eggs for hatching may be shipped long distances suc- 
cessfully. In many cases, however, the shipment seems to 
affect the hatch, probably due to the continual jarring. It 
is advisable to -set the eggs aside and allow them to rest 
for about 12 hours after their receipt and before they are 
placed under a hen or in the incubator in order to allow the 
germ to regain its normal position. 

Shipment may be made either by express or by parcel 
post. In order to prevent breakage as much as possible 
and also to lessen the effects of the jars to which the eggs 
are subjected they must be carefully packed. A common 
and one of the best methods of packing is to use an ordi- 
nary market basket. Line the basket well on the bottom 
and sides with excelsior. Next wrap each egg in paper 
and then wrap in excelsior or place a good thickness of 
excelsior between the eggs when they are packed so that 
they cannot come in contact with one another. Pack the 
eggs in the basket, standing them on the small end and 
being sure that they are tightly packed so that they cannot 
move or shift around. Place a thick covering of excelsior 
on top of the eggs, using enough so that it comes above 
the sides of the basket, and sew a piece of strong cotton 
cloth over the top. Instead of sewing, the cloth can be 
pushed up under the outside rim of the basket with a case 
knife, this being quicker and equally as effective as sew- 
ing. Where a larger number of eggs is to be shipped, 

38 




q 
^> 

s 

I 

I 



3 -^ 

if 



11 



VARIETIES, MATING AND SHOWING 

bushel baskets may be used, the method of packing and 
covering being the same as when a market basket is used. 

Judging Turkeys 

The turkeys should be cooped separately in the show. 
If two turkeys are cooped together it is almost im- 
possible to get them to stand naturally and to show 
off to as good advantage as they will if cooped by them- 
selves. The coops should be large enough to allow 
the turkey to stand erect and to move about easily. 
Smaller coops render it impossible to judge properly as 
to the bird's type or shape. In judging the birds for type, 
the whole class should be gone over thoroughly before any 
of the birds are taken out. Once they have been caught, 
taken out of the coop and handled, it is very difficult if not 
impossible to get them to stand naturally again when they 
are put back as they are frightened by the treatment which 
they have received. In catching the cooped birds, if the 
door of the coop is large enough to allow a man to insert 
his body, the best way to catch them is to throw the left 
arm over the body so as to hold the wings down and pre- 
vent the bird from struggling while the right hand is used 
to grasp both legs below the hock. In this position the 
bird can be readily drawn out of the coop without injury 
to its plumage. 

If the door of the coop is smaller it may be necessary to 
grasp the bird by the wings close to their point of attach- 
ment to the body, drawing it out of the door in this man- 

39 



TURKEY RAISING 

ner, or in some cases where the birds are especially hard 
to handle it may be necessary to grasp them by the shanks 
and pull them out in this way. This last practice should 
not be employed if it is possible to avoid it since the bird 
is sure to struggle, flap its wings and more or less injury 
is done to the plumage and to the wings in dragging the 
bird through the door. 

If the judge understands thoroughly how to catch and 
handle birds it will be better for him to insist on doing all 
of this work himself rather than to let some assistant do it 
who does not know how so well and who might do the 
birds damage. After the birds are taken out of the coop 
they should be carried to a good light where the different 
sections can be examined for perfection of color and 
markings. It is well for the judge to have an assistant or 
two so that he can have them hold one bird while he holds 
another for the purpose of comparison. Not infre- 
quently broken flights will be found in turkeys. Other 
things being equal these broken flights count against a 
bird considerably but they are not such a serious defect 
as to prevent a superior bird from winning over an in- 
ferior one. A missing flight feather or a missing main 
tail feather is a much more serious defect than is a broken 
flight. 



CHAPTER III 

Management of the Breeding Stock 

Making a Start. What is the best way to make a start 
in turkey raising, by the purchase of breeding stock or of 
eggs for hatching? As a rule, it will be found best to 
purchase breeding stock. Such a purchase will involve a 
greater outlay of capital but will allow one to begin opera- 
tions in earnest as soon as the laying season begins. The 
purchase of breeding stock will also make it possible to 
gain a better idea of the quality of the stock and -what may 
be expected of the young stock raised. If one does not 
wish to put as much money into the turkeys at the start, 
they can purchase eggs for hatching and hatch and rear 
them under an ordinary chicken hen. Where this is done, 
however, it will be a year before one can begin breeding 
turkeys. For the person who has had little or no experi- 
ence in turkey raising, one torn and from three to five hens 
will be enough to begin with and many persons will prefer 
to start with a trio, that is a torn and two hens. With 
good success from 7 to 10 turkeys should be raised from 
each hen. In buying breeding stock for a start it is better 
to purchase a torn which is unrelated to the hens. 

41 



TURKEY RAISING 

Selection of Breeding Stock 

The main considerations in selecting stock for breed- 
ing purposes are vigor, size, shape of body, strength 
of bone, early maturity and in the case of stock for 
exhibition, color of plumage. It is always desirable 
for the farmer or other turkey raiser to select pure 
bred stock rather than to keep ordinary or mongrel tur- 
keys. Not only will the pure bred stock possess greater 
uniformity and therefore better market quality, but be- 
cause they have been systematically bred for the purpose 
of producing suitable carcasses, they will be found to 
possess better fattening qualities as well. It is also true 
that the pure bred flocks when given good care so that 
they have a chance to reach their full size will develop 
into much larger birds than will the average flock of 
mongrels. Another consideration which should carry 
weight with the turkey raiser is the fact that there is 
always a brisk demand for breeding stock from pure bred 
flocks both in the way of turkey hens for breeding, good 
vigorous toms for the same purpose, and eggs for hatch- 
ing. Such a sale adds very materially to the income which 
the turkey raiser can secure from his flock of turkeys. 

If the farmer or turkey raiser already has a flock of 
hens which may be crossbred or mongrel and if he does 
not feel that he can go to the expense of replacing these 
hens with pure bred individuals, he can secure a rapid im- 
provement in his flock, in fact can grade them up to the 
point where for all practical purposes they are pure bred, 

42 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

by the use in successive generations of a pure bred male, 
being careful to use each year a male of the same variety. 
In too many cases turkey raisers, in securing new 
blood, buy a turkey torn for breeding purposes wherever 
they can secure him and quite regardless of his variety or 
even whether he is pure bred. The result of this practice 
can only lead to a crossing and mixing up of the blood to 
such an extent that in a short time the flock becomes one 
of mongrels. Most turkey raisers recognize the fact that 
it is really poor policy to mongrelize their flock in this 
way, but the turkey flock is a small side-line on most 
farms and many owners do not take the trouble or pains 
to keep their flocks pure. 

Should Turkeys be Inbred? 

In a general way it may be said that it is unwise to 
inbreed turkeys, particularly to continue to inbreed them 
over any period of time. It is possible to use the same 
male for two successive years without inbreeding to a 
dangerous extent, but it is most desirable to secure from 
time to time absolutely unrelated .blood if possible. 
Where the breeding stock is yarded and more than two 
matings are made it is possible to use a torn for two 
years or more without inbreeding by mating him with 
the same hens with which he was originally mated ex- 
cluding his daughters from the pen. In the majority 
of cases continued inbreeding will lead to a loss of vigor 
and to a consequent deterioration in the flock. Instances 

43 



TURKEY RAISING 

are by no means rare, however, where inbreeding has 
been carried on with success over quite a period of time. 
It is probable that the same condition holds true here as 
with chickens or with other classes of live stock, namely, 
that while most strains or families seem to show evil re- 
sults from continued inbreeding, occasional strains will 
be found which seem to be able to stand up well under 
inbreeding and do not show any apparent deterioration. 

Where the turkey grower has stock of exceptional 
quality and is interested in maintaining this quality he 
will hesitate to purchase a torn of unrelated blood for fear 
that the two bloods will not nick well and the quality may 
be destroyed. In this case it is usual to line breed, or in 
other words, to use breeders of the same family or strain 
but not closely related. The turkey grower who is line 
breeding usually purchases new breeding toms from the 
same source where he secured his foundation stock. Noth- 
ing is to be gained by crossing. The increased vigor 
which may result from such a practice can be obtained just 
as well by using a male or unrelated blood of the same 
variety. 

Age of Breeding Stock 

In selecting the breeders, attention must be given to the 
age of the stock. While early hatched, well matured 
pullets can safely be bred, it is true that yearling hens 
produce eggs which are on the average larger and more 
uniform in size and it seems to be the general opinion 

44 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

that the poults hatched from such eggs are somewhat 
superior to those hatched from eggs laid by pullets. 
Early hatched pullets will as a rule start laying earlier 
in the spring and will lay more eggs than yearling or 
older hens. Late hatched pullets should never be saved 
for breeders. Not only do they fail to attain as good size 
as the earlier hatched birds but the stock produced from 
them is not as satisfactory. As in the case of early hatched 
pullets, so early hatched well matured cockerels or young 
toms can be used for breeding if they show that they are 
good vigorous individuals. 

Late hatched toms, that is July or August hatched, 
while they should not be used for breeding the first year 
will often make good breeders the second year and can be 
retained if desired for that purpose. These late hatched 
toms seldom if ever attain as good a size as early hatched 
males. While some breeders claim that they get no bad 
results from breeding together well matured cockerels 
and well matured pullets, most breeders prefer to mate 
pullets with yearling or two-year-old toms and to mate 
cockerels with yearling or older hens. In no case should 
slow growing birds of either sex be saved for breeders. 
A plan which is often followed by turkey breeders and 
which works out to good advantage is to use about half 
yearling hens and half early hatched pullets. Old hens 
are not apt to be as satisfactory breeders as well matured 
pullets or yearling hens. As a rule these older birds 
are inclined to be too fat and for this reason to lay 
fewer eggs, eggs which are less fertile and a consider- 

45 



TURKEY RAISING 

able number of soft-shelled eggs. The large hens when 
used for sitting purposes are also likely to break more 
eggs. While it is a general practice and good practice 
not to retain many hens beyond their second year for 
breeders, if the turkey grower possesses an especially 
valuable hen from a breeding point of view or one which 
makes an exceptionally good mother, she should be re- 
tained as a breeder just so long as she is in good breeding 
condition. 

Older turkeys, both males and females, tend to be less 
fertile than younger birds, probably due to the fact that 
they are fatter and heavier and less active. Hens are not 
ordinarily profitable after they are four years old. Year- 
ling toms are as a rule more clumsy than cockerels, owing 
to their greater weight and this of course is still more 
true of two-year-old or older toms. For this reason they 
are not quite as satisfactory breeders as well matured 
cockerels. It is usually possible to distinguish between 
young turkeys and those which are yearlings or older by 
means of the wing feathering. In all varieties the two 
outer primary feathers are carried as chick feathers 
until the birds moult as yearlings. These chick feathers 
are pointed at the end and are easily distinguished from 
the mature feathers which are rounded. 

The second way to tell the age is by the wing bar which 
does not mature until the second year. In the mature 
female the wing bar is about as wide as three fingers and 
the feathers which form it grow out to an even length, 
causing its lower edge to be regular in outline. In the 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

pullet the wing bar is not more than two fingers wide and 
the feathers do not grow out to an even length so as to 
form a regular outline to its lower edge. In the mature 
gobblers the wing bar shows a width of about four 
fingers and has an even outline while in the young gobbler 
the wing bar is not over three fingers wide and has an 
uneven outline. See Figs. 7, 10 and 17. 

Prevent Injury to Hens in Breeding 

Where yearling or older toms are used they are very 
likely to injure the hens in mating because of their weight 
and their sharp spurs and toe nails. When they are used, 
therefore, it is necessary to cut off the spurs and clip or file 
down the toe nails short and blunt. Some breeders protect 
their hens from injury during the breeding season by fas- 
tening a cloth covering or sort of apron over their backs. 
Injury to the hens during the breeding is more likely to oc- 
cur where the hens are very fat as the skin of their backs 
rips more easily in this condition or when the torn is very 
much heavier than the hens. Care should be used to see 
that there is a definite relation between the size of the hens 
and the torn used. For instance, if it becomes necessary 
or desirable to use a torn weighing 35 to 45 pounds, no 
hen should be mated with him which weighs less than 25 
pounds. The use of light weight small females with heavy 
toms is very likely to result in breaking them down. With 
the wild turkeys it is best to use toms which do not run 
more than 2 or 3 pounds heavier than the hens used. One 

47 



TURKEY RAISING 

8 or 10 pounds heavier is sure to injure the hens in some 
cases so severely that they will die. When the skin of a 
hen's back is severely torn it may sometimes be desirable 
to sew up the tears, rubbing carbolated vaseline on the 
wound after the sewing is completed. 

Selecting and Purchasing Breeders 

The best time to select the breeders is during the fall, 
before the turkeys are sent to the Thanksgiving and 
Christmas markets. At this time the turkey grower can 
pick out from his young stock the best grown, most vig- 
orous females to save as breeders. There is entirely too 
great a tendency for turkey raisers to be tempted by the 
holiday prices to send their best grown, largest birds to 
market, with the result that after the Christmas mar- 
keting, they have left only the slow growing, small, 
scrubby females to retain as breeders. Such a practice 
must of course result in a deterioration in the stock. In 
case turkey hens or breeding males are to be purchased, 
the fall is the best time to do this as there will be a larger 
number of birds to select from at that time. It is also 
well to have the breeders selected early and placed under 
the conditions where they will be bred so that they will 
become thoroughly used to their environment before 
the breeding season commences. 

When breeding birds are purchased they should be iso- 
lated, when received, for a few days, in order to make sure 
that they are thoroughly healthy before they are allowed 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

to run with the flock. At this time it is also well to ex- 
amine the purchased turkeys carefully to see that they are 
free from lice, and if any indication of lice is found they 
should be thoroughly treated as described on page 125. 
In buying turkeys for new blood it is better to purchase a 
gobbler rather than to buy hens. The purchase of a male 
makes it possible to inject the new blood more widely in 
the flock by means of a single individual. Moreover, 
there will not be much difficulty experienced from a 
strange gobbler straying away as he will stay with the 
hens. If strange hens are purchased they are much more 
likely to wander away than are the turkey raiser's own 
hens. Very frequently turkeys are bought at a certain 
guaranteed weight. In this connection it must be remem- 
bered either in buying or selling that the shipment is hard 
on turkeys and they will often lose as much as 2 or 3 
pounds while en route. A common practice in selling tur- 
keys for breeding purposes is to send sample feathers 
from the bird so that the prospective purchaser can form 
a good estimate as to the general excellence of the bird in 
question. 

Number of Hens to a Male. 

In the wild variety it is not desirable to mate more 
than eight hens with one male. In the domesticated 
varieties a good vigorous young torn can be safely mated 
to as high as 15 hens. If a flock of 25 or 30 hens 
is to be kept, two toms should be used. The best prac- 
tice is to allow one torn to run with the hens one day 

49 



TURKEY RAISING 

and the other the following day. If the two toms are 
allowed to run with the flock at the same time they will 
fight frequently and seriously and may injure each other 
so that they will not be in the most vigorous breeding 
condition or may even be killed. In addition to that, 
the stronger torn intimidates the weaker to such an extent 
that the stronger does practically all of the mating. The 
presence of the weaker torn then serves only as a detri- 
ment to the mating for he is not allowed to mate with any 
of the hens and he attempts to interfere with the stronger 
torn when mating. 

A torn which struts about and spreads his tail fre- 
quently is usually in good health while one which mopes 
around with his tail down is not. A glossy clean condition 
of the plumage is also an indication of good health. 
Where a flock of 40 or 50 hens is kept, three toms can be 
used, alternating them each day or perhaps what is better 
practice, each half day. Whatever may be the number of 
gobblers necessary in order to insure fertility from the" 
flock of hens kept, it is well to select and hold over an 
extra gobbler. This will insure against loss of time in 
case anything happens to one of the breeding males as it 
may be difficult to secure the kind of male desired on 
short notice during the breeding season. 

Breeding Yards 

As turkeys are usually kept with only a few hens in 
a flock, it is common practice to allow the breeders free 

50 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

range. This is a very desirable practice if the danger 
of loss of the eggs is not too great and if the number of 
hens involved is not so many as to make the work of 
looking after them in the nests which they steal too 
burdensome. Where a larger number of hens is kept 
it is best to provide a roomy enclosed pen or breeding 
yard, and many raisers prefer to do this even with a 
smaller number of hens on account of the time saved in 
looking after the turkeys, the ease of locating the nests 
and the fact that all eggs laid are thus secured. 

Sometimes the breeding pens are comparatively small 
in area, but it is best to allow an acre or two of ground 
for this purpose even if no more than 20 or 30 hens are 
kept. When a small breeding pen or yard is utilized the 
practice should be to keep them shut up during the morn- 
ing and about half of the afternoon. By that time prac- 
tically all of the eggs will have been laid and the turkeys 
can then be turned out of the pen and allowed to roam at 
will during the rest of the day and to roost out where 
they wish at night. Even when large breeding yards are 
used this is good practice. Early in the morning they 
should be driven back into the pen, which will be found to 
be easy of accomplishment if the birds are fed in the en- 
closure regularly each morning. An orchard makes a 
very desirable breeding enclosure for the turkey hens. 
Such a place enclosed with a hog-tight wire fence 3 feet 
high will usually serve to hold the turkeys especially if no 
board or rail is used at the top of the fence. Where such 
a rail or a wooden fence is used the turkeys see a place to 

51 



TURKEY RAISING 

alight and this leads them to fly upon the fence and then 
over. With the wire fence they see no such handy alight- 
ing place and will not as a rule attempt to fly over. For 
the same reason steel posts in the fence offer less of an 
alighting place than wooden posts, and if the latter are 
used, the tops should be sharpened to a point. 

If any difficulty is experienced in the hens flying out of 
the enclosure provided for them, this can usually be 
checked by clipping the flight feathers of one wing. It is 
not as a rule necessary to clip the wing of a torn except in 
the case of wild birds for he will not leave the hens. It 
must be remembered that clipping the wings of hens ren- 
ders them somewhat helpless against the attacks of dogs 
or foxes and will also make it necessary to provide easy 
means for them to get up on the roosts high enough to be 
out of reach of foxes or coyotes. Clipping the wings of 
hens also injures their usefulness to some extent for 
brooding as they cannot hover as many poults to as good 
advantage. Occasionally, also, clipping the flight feathers 
may render a bird unfit for showing since the wing may 
not grow out in time for the show. Turkeys can be pre- 
vented from flying by tying a piece of light board across 
the back over the wings. Such boards are called paddles, 
or shingles. The paddle should be about 4 inches wide 
and may be from 8 to 15 inches long. Two holes bored 
over the base of each wing allow a strip of soft cloth or a 
soft string to be passed through there and around the wing 
at the base, thus securing the paddle in place. This must 
not be tied so tightly as to cut off the circulation. When 

52 




FIG. 21. Showing how the shingle or paddle is attached to a 
turkey to prevent it from flying. (Photograph from the Bureau of 
Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.} 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

the paddle is thus tied in place across the shoulders the 
bird is prevented from raising and spreading its wings 
and cannot fly. 

Where hens have stolen a nest and started to lay be- 
fore they have been shut up in the enclosure they will 
make every effort for a few days to get out in order to 
continue laying in the nest which they have selected for 
themselves. In this case the eggs should be removed from 
the nest which they have stolen and their wings should 
be clipped or they should be paddled so as to prevent 
their flying over the fence. As a rule they will begin lay- 
ing in a few days in one of the nests provided in the en- 
closure. 

Where wild turkeys are kept it is necessary to clip the 
flight feathers of one wing in order to keep the birds 
from flying over the fence. Even with one wing clipped, 
a higher fence is necessary than is the case with the do- 
mesticated varieties and it is best to use a fence 8 or 
preferably 10 feet high. It is better to clip one wing only 
rather than to clip both wings, as this tends to unbalance 
the bird more when it tries to fly or climb. With both 
wings clipped the birds are able to climb over quite a high 
fence. In this connection, it should be stated that the 
wing of the wild turkey torn should never be clipped until 
after the breeding season is over. To do so makes it 
difficult for the birds to balance when treading the hens 
and therefore interferes with the breeding. On this ac- 
count it may be necessary until after the breeding season 
is over, to keep the wild turkeys in a run covered ovef 

53 



TURKEY RAISING 

the top with wire netting to prevent the torn from escap- 
ing. It is unnecessary to clip the wing of domesticated 
gobblers for they will stay with the hens. 

Feeding the Breeding Stock 

To be in good breeding condition the birds should come 
through the winter in good condition of flesh but not 
fat. If they are fed too much corn throughout the winter 
there is quite a likelihood of their being too fat when 
the breeding season opens. Where the birds have free 
range they are able to get for themselves a varied sup- 
ply of feed including grass, tender shoots, young leaves, 
insects and nuts and seeds of various kinds. This is 
particularly true during the breeding season in the South, 
and where an abundance of this kind of natural food is 
available one good feed daily of grain such as oats or 
wheat will suffice to keep the birds in good breeding 
condition. 

In the North where the winters are more severe turkey 
raisers generally feed the birds twice a day. A good 
feed for this purpose is one consisting of equal parts of 
oats, wheat and corn together with some vegetables such 
as beets, cabbages, turnips, potatoes, clover or alfalfa for 
a green feed. Another good feed for breeding turkeys 
consists of 3 or 4 parts of oats to i part of corn. Some 
turkey raisers also like to leave bran where the turkeys 
can help themselves at any time. Buckwheat is relished 
by turkeys when they are used to it, but should not be 
used exclusively as a grain feed. Some animal feed dur- 

54 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

ing the winter is also necessary if the birds are to be kept 
in the best condition, as this takes the place of the insects 
which they are able to secure at other seasons. Ordinary 
commercial beef scrap such as is fed to hens, or beef livers 
or lungs or skim milk, either sweet or sour, is suitable for 
this purpose. 

Often a good laying mash such as is used for laying 
hens can be fed to the breeding flock just previous to the 
breeding season in order to start them laying. Unless 
turkeys are used to eating a mash, however, it may be 
some little time before they will eat it readily. Where 
the breeding stock is confined to a breeding pen it is well 
to sow some green crop such as grass, oats, rye, wheat, 
barley, clover or alfalfa. It is not desirable to feed the 
breeding stock on corn alone for a grain. Wheat and 
oats are the best grains for the purpose. The laying hens 
should also have access during the breeding season to 
grit and charcoal and also to oyster shells for the pur- 
pose of furnishing shell-forming material. 

It is especially necessary to supply grit when the soil 
does not contain much gravel. Charcoal is an excellent 
aid in keeping the birds in good condition as it is a good 
corrective for digestive troubles. Unless the birds have 
access to a stream of water, it is necessary to provide fresh 
water daily in a pan, pail or other receptacle which can be 
kept clean. Stagnant water is bad for turkeys, and they 
prefer to drink from a stream. Such a stream is there- 
fore a valuable asset on a farm where turkeys are 
raised. 

55 



TURKEY RAISING 

Winter Shelter for the Breeders 

Many turkey raisers provide no shelter whatever for 
their breeding stock even during the winter, allowing 
the birds to roost in trees or upon roosts especially pre- 
pared for them. This is particularly true in the more 
southern localities. In the North where the winters are 
severe some form of shelter should be available as a 
protection to the birds. This may not be used during 
most of the winter but should be available so that the 
birds can be driven into it during severe stormy weather 
especially during sleet or ice storms. 

Turkeys can stand a greater degree of cold than hens, 
but like them they are more susceptible to a damp cold 
than to a dry cold. During severe sleet storms the tur- 
keys roosting in the open sometimes have such a coat of 
ice frozen on them and become so stiffened that they may 
be blown from their roosts and injured in their fall to the 
ground. Any shed or barn can be utilized as a shelter for 
turkeys during storms. Where turkey houses or sheds 
are provided they usually take the form of a shed with 
most or all of the south front open. Such sheds may be 
used to shelter the breeding stock during all of the winter 
season, but as soon as the weather moderates in the spring 
the birds should be turned out of the house and made to 
roost outside. This they will readily do and will keep in 
better health as a result. 

Where turkey houses are used it is necessary to keep 
the interior of the house very clean, removing the drop- 

56 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

pings regularly, and to provide plenty of litter if the 
health of the stock is to be maintained. Where only a 
few turkeys are kept they are sometimes allowed to roost 
in the chicken house with the chickens. It is best, how- 
ever, not to allow turkeys to roost with fowls as they will '! 
do better when they are kept separate. 

A satisfactory turkey house, built especially for that 
purpose, is one 30 feet long and 16 feet deep. The front 
wall is 9 feet high and the rear wall 6 feet, the roof being 
of the single slope or shed roof type. The foundation is 
concrete and the floor is board. The walls are a single 
thickness and may be either of matched boards, of barn 
boards with the cracks battened or of barn boards covered 
with paper. The house is tight on all sides except the 
front, where there is an opening 3 feet wide extending 
clear across the house. This opening is placed 4 feet 
from the floor and 2 feet from the roof. It is, 
of course, covered with wire netting. A wide door is 
provided in the middle of the front. A dropping board 
runs along the rear of the house 3 feet from the floor and 
roosts are j laced above this. The floor is covered with 
a thick layer of straw which is changed weekly. During 
the cold or stormy weather the turkeys are driven into 
this house each night and if the weather is particularly 
bad they can be kept there for a day or two, feeding them 
inside. Ordinarily, the turkeys are fed outside the house. 
A house of this size will accommodate 60 turkeys very 
nicely and more can be kept in it for limited periods. 




TURKEY RAISING 

Breeding and Laying Season 

The breeding season for turkeys usually begins in the 
South in the early part of February and in the North 
nearly a month later. Laying usually begins in a week 
or ten days after the turkey hen has mated for the first 
time. A single mating suffices to fertilize all of the eggs 
in a litter but usually the hen mates several times before 
she begins to lay. The greater proportion of the .mat- 
ings occurs either early in the day, soon after the birds 
have come down from the roosts, or later in the day, not 
long before they go to roost again. 

The number of eggs which a turkey hen lays will de- 
pend upon several things : First of all upon her age; sec- 
ondly, upon whether it is a first, second, or third litter, 
and, thirdly, upon the individuality of the hen herself. The 
hens do not all begin laying, of course, at the same time 
and variation in this respect may be as great as six weeks 
or two months from the time the first hen begins to lay 
until the last starts. Pullets, as a rule, begin laying 
slightly earlier than do yearling or older hens. The aver- 
age number of eggs in the first litter is about 18 but in- 
dividual hens may lay anywhere from 12 to 30 eggs. 
The number of eggs laid in the second litter is smaller, 
being about 12, while in the third litter the average num- 
ber will not be much over 10. 

The following table gives the individual records of lay- 
ing of a number of females which were kept under close 
observation. Attention is called to the fact that the num- 

58 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

her of yearling hens, which is two, is too small to attach 
any great significance to their average. The same may 
be said of the three November-hatched pullets. It is a 
matter of interest that these November-hatched pullets 
began laying May i, 2 and 5. 

Spring Hatched Pullets 
ist litter 2nd litter 3rd litter Total 

17 
32 

ii 35 

9 39 

25 

19 
i? 
30 
i? 
33 
25 
29 

35 
10 

November-Hatched Pullets 

ist litter 2nd litter 3rd litter Total 

No. 18 . 17 17 

" 19 12 12 

"20 17 17 

Average 15 1/3 

59 



No. I 


17 





" 2 


18 


H 


" 3 


14 


10 


" 4 


20 


10 


" 5 


25 





" 7 


19 





" 8 


17 





" 9 


18 


12 


" 10 


17 





" 12 


22 


II 


" 14 


16 


9 


15 


16 


13 


" 16 


18 


17 


Average 


183/13 


12 



TURKEY RAISING 

Yearling Hens 

ist litter 2nd litter 3rd litter Total 
No. 6 ....... 31 15 46 

"ii ....... 21 14 35 

Average ...... 26 



Some turkey hens, especially if they are broken up and 
not required to sit, can be made to lay as many as four or 
five litters, but this is not a practice to be recommended 
for the reason that poults hatched after the first of July 
do not have time to develop into suitable turkeys for the 
market at Thanksgiving or Christmas and will not be 
well enough grown to make suitable breeders the following 
spring. Occasional hens lay throughout the summer with- 
out becoming broody and may lay 100 or more eggs. 
Most of the eggs are laid in the morning, although occa- 
sional eggs will be laid in the afternoon. 

When the laying first begins it progresses at the rate 
of an egg every other day until two or three eggs have 
been laid when the rate usually quickens to an egg each 
day, although days may be skipped now and then through 
the laying, particularly on the day before laying the last 
egg of the litter. When the hen first begins laying she 
usually leaves the nest within an hour or two after the 
egg has been laid. As the laying progresses, however, 
she stays longer and longer on the nest after laying until 
she is really sitting by the time the last egg is laid. This 
is well illustrated by the following table which shows the 
time at which the eggs of a clutch were laid by a turkey 

60 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

hen, and the length of time she remained on the nest after 
she had laid. 

A hen that begins laying in the middle of March gen- 
erally finishes her first litter early in April, and when 
broken up will finish her second litter late in April and 
her third late in May, although, of course, this depends to 
a large extent on the number of eggs she lays in each 
litter and upon the promptness with which she is broken 
up after she becomes broody. Oftentimes when hens are 
allowed to sit and hatch out and raise their brood of 
poults after they have laid their first litter of eggs they will 
begin to lay again in the fall and will hatch poults at that 
time if allowed to do so. This is not desirable, however, 
for poults hatched at this time are not very valuable and 
require entirely too much time and care to raise them 
during the cold weather. 

Fall hatched pullets will often begin laying the follow- 
ing spring but on account of the smaller size and un- 
evenness of their eggs, they do not make desirable breed- 
ers. It is not a difficult matter to break a turkey hen of 
broodiness. If she is confined to a slat bottom coop, she 
can usually be cured of her broodiness in two to four 
days. After being broken up and let out she will mate 
again in a short time and often begin laying in about a 
week. 

Locating Stolen Nests 

Where the breeders are given free range the turkey 
hens generally steal off and select the nesting place where 

61 



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MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

they will lay their eggs and hatch the poults. If a 
good enclosed breeding yard is available where there is 
little or no danger of loss of the eggs as the result of 
predatory animals of any kind, it is not a bad practice 
to allow the hens to steal their nests. This is particu- 
larly true of wild turkey hens which are inclined to be 
badly disturbed by having their nests moved or by be- 
ing bothered too much while they are sitting. Usually 
there is considerable danger of loss of the eggs either 
due to their becoming chilled early in the season or else to 
their being destroyed by some marauding animal such as 
skunks, opossums, rats, crows, dogs, minks, coyotes, 
wolves, foxes, cats and snakes. Some of these marauders 
may also destroy the sitting hen herself. 

It becomes desirable in most cases, therefore, to locate 
stolen nests for the purpose of removing the eggs as 
they are laid, although it is always necessary to leave a 
nest egg or two so that the hen will come back to the nest 
to do her laying. Stolen nests can be located by follow- 
ing the hen when she separates from the flock for the 
purpose of going to her nest to lay, but this is rather a 
tedious process as she often proceeds to the nest in a very 
leisurely and round about manner, feeding as she goes. 
It is also necessary to make sure that the turkey hen is 
not aware of the fact that she is being watched, as in that 
case it is very difficult to get her to betray the location of 
her nest. Sometimes a bell is hung about the necks of 
turkey hens and this serves as a help in locating stolen 

63 



TURKEY RAISING 

nests as well as helping to locate the hen with her brood 
later in the season. 

The best way to locate stolen nests is to confine the hens 
in question in the morning after they come down from 
the roosts and to keep them there until late in the after- 
noon. This necessitates their holding back the egg which 
they would probably have laid in the morning, and as 
soon as they are let out in the afternoon they will go 
straight to their nests in order to deposit the egg which 
they have been holding. 

Turkeys love to locate their nests in a secluded place 
such as thick undergrowth or piles of brush. They also 
show evidences of their wild ancestry very plainly in the 
way in which they cover up their eggs with leaves when 
they leave the nest. Usually the nests are so cleverly con- 
cealed in this manner that a person can walk right by 
without being aware that a nest exists. If attractive nest- 
ing places are provided about the house or barn, turkey 
hens will sometimes lay in them. This is more likely to 
be the case in the North where there may be snow on the 
ground when the laying first begins, as during the time the 
snow stays on the ground, the turkey hens are less in- 
clined to roam very far. 

Suitable nests can easily be made from boxes or barrels 
or by scooping out a little earth from the ground so as to 
form a nest. A barrel laid on its side with a nest of hay 
or straw formed in it is one of the favorite nesting places 
of turkey hens. If barrels or boxes with nesting material 
in them are placed in secluded but not too far distant 

64 



MANAGEMENT OF THE BREEDING STOCK 

places the hens will often select them as a nesting place 
when stealing their nests. This proves to be a great con- 
venience as it will save considerable time in hunting for 
stolen nests. Not infrequently two or three hens may 
lay in the same nest. In this case, of course, it will be 
necessary to gather the eggs as they are laid, leaving only 
a nest egg or two, as too many eggs will be laid in the 
nest for one hen to cover properly when hatching. 

Care of Eggs for Hatching 

Not infrequently the poor results which are obtained 
in hatching turkey eggs may be due to carelessness in 
gathering or caring for the eggs. No matter how the 
eggs are to be hatched, whether under a turkey hen, 
chicken hen or an incubator, it is usually best to gather 
the eggs as they are laid, leaving only a nest egg or two 
except in those cases where the hen has stolen her nest 
in a safe location and where it is desired to let her hatch 
out her brood. Gathering the eggs in this way will pre- 
vent loss from crows or predatory animals and will also 
prevent the chilling of eggs during the cold weather early 
in the season. 

If the weather is especially cold the eggs should be 
gathered as promptly after laying as possible in order to 
prevent chilling or freezing. As the eggs are gathered 
they should be dated so that they will not be held too 
long before they are set. Never hold turkey eggs over 
two weeks before placing them either under a turkey hen, 

65 



TURKEY RAISING 

a chicken hen, or in the incubator. Eggs for hatching 
should be held at a temperature somewhere around 50 or 
60 degrees. They should also be turned daily in order 
that the yolks may not stick to the shell. In handling the 
eggs be as careful with them as possible so as not to jar 
them or crack the shell. 



66 



CHAPTER IV 

Incubation of Turkey Eggs 

Period of Incubation. It requires on the average 
about 28 days for turkey eggs to hatch. As with any 
other class of poultry, however, this varies somewhat. 
The first egg generally pips early on the 27th day and the 
first poult may be hatched on that day. The hatch should 
be well completed at the end of the 28th day. In some 
cases, however, the hatches may be completed slightly 
before this and in some cases the hatch may not be com- 
plete before the end of 30 days. It is common practice 
to test turkey eggs twice during incubation as in the case 
of hens' eggs for the purpose of detecting and removing 
infertile eggs and dead germs. This testing should be 
done on the loth and 2Oth days. 

Testing may be done in a dark room, proceeding ex- 
actly as with hens' eggs and using a tester similar to that 
which comes with an incubator. Testing may also be 
done by means of a tube similar to an ordinary paste- 
board mailing tube which is cut out at one end so that the 
egg will fit closely against it. This tube is held up to the 
eye toward the sun and the egg placed at the other end of 
the tube. In this position the sunlight shines through and 
the condition of the egg is easily seen. Such a tube tester 



TURKEY RAISING 

is more convenient for use when the eggs are set under 
turkey hens and are scattered about the farm in various 
places, as it enables one to do the testing at the nest. 

Fertile eggs can be recognized the same as with hens' 
eggs by the fact that the germ appears as a movable spot 
from which blood vessels radiate out. If the germ is 
dead it will usually be attached to the shell and the blood 
will have settled away and formed a ring a quarter or half 
an inch away from the germ. Infertile eggs will show 
perfectly clear except for the shadowy outline of the 
yolk. Any infertile eggs tested out should be saved and 
used in feeding the young poults when they hatch. 

Methods of Hatching 

Turkey hens are reliable sitters, and if they are 
properly managed, will undoubtedly give the best results 
in hatching the eggs. This may be due to the fact that 
turkey hens sit more closely on the eggs than do most 
chicken hens, as this treatment seems to be favorable 
for a good hatch of turkey eggs. In addition to using 
turkey hens for the purpose of incubating the eggs it 
sometimes becomes desirable to make use of chicken 
hens or, more rarely, incubators. This is often done 
to save time when a number of turkey eggs have accumu- 
lated before any of the turkey hens have finished laying 
their litter and are ready to sit. 

It is also frequently done when it is desired to break 
the turkey hens up when they become broody in order to 

68 



INCUBATION OF TURKEY EGGS 

cause them to lay a second and third litter so that more 
eggs for hatching will be available and more poults can 
be raised. Some turkey growers hatch the turkey eggs in 
incubators entirely, even though they use the turkey hens 
to brood the poults. The idea in this case is to save the 
condition of the hens by not confining them and subject- 
ing them to the long period of inactivity while they are 
hatching. Since it is by all means desirable to give the 
poults to turkey hens to raise, it is good practice to set a 
sufficient number of turkey hens about a week before the 
e ggs, which may be under chicken hens or in an incu- 
bator, are due to hatch. These hens may be given a few 
of the eggs from the incubator or the chicken hens or 
they may be set on a nest egg or two. If they are allowed 
to hatch a few of the eggs themselves it is an easy matter 
to slip more newly hatched poults under them from the 
chicken hens or from the incubator. If the turkey hens 
are not allowed to hatch any of the eggs themselves but 
are set on nest eggs a newly hatched poult or two can be 
slipped under each turkey hen at night and in most cases 
they will mother these poults and others by morning. 

Number of Eggs to Set 

There should be a very definite understanding as to 
what constitutes the proper number of eggs to set. Never 
give the turkey hen or a chicken hen more eggs than 
she can cover well. Turkey hens will ordinarily cover 
from 15 to 1 8 eggs to good advantage, depending on 

69 



TURKEY RAISING 

the size of the hen, while chicken hens of the general 
purpose type such as the Plymouth Rock will cover 
from 8 to 10 eggs. Unfortunately, in an effort to utilize 
the turkey or chicken hens to the fullest advantage, there 
is a great tendency to place more eggs under them than 
they can properly cover. The result of this is that one 
or more of the eggs is considerably exposed to the weather 
and is likely to become chilled. As the hen moves the 
eggs around in the nest all or most of the eggs may in 
turn be exposed to this same condition, with the result 
that the hatch is entirely spoiled or very poor. It is not 
infrequent for turkey raisers to try to set from 21 to 
2 3 eggs under a medium sized turkey hen or 13 under a 
chicken hen. Such a practice will not give good results. 

Nest for Sitting Hen 

In constructing or preparing a nest for sitting turkey 
or chicken hens it is best to make it on the ground. A 
little earth can be hollowed out of the ground so as to 
make a depression deep enough to keep the eggs from 
rolling out of the nest. Clean straw or hay can then 
be used as a thin covering over this hollow to form a 
nest and to prevent the eggs from being directly on the 
ground. A good-sized roomy coop should be placed over 
the nest and the hen to keep her from being disturbed. 

Where only a few hens are kept and where there is 
little danger of loss of eggs or of the hen being disturbed 
by marauding animals, good results will be obtained by 

70 



INCUBATION OF TURKEY EGGS 

letting the hens steal their nests. As a rule, however, it 
will be found much more convenient and much more 
satisfactory to set the hen in a nest which has been pre- 
pared for her and which will, therefore, be more con- 
venient and more protected. This is especially true when 
a number of hens are to be set, as this will allow a row of 
nests to be made on the ground next to one another but 
separated with solid board partitions, and will greatly 
facilitate taking care of the sitters. Where a number of 
hens are set close together it is necessary to be careful 
when they are let off that they go back on their own nests 
and that two hens do not try to crowd on the same nest, 
leaving the eggs in one nest to become chilled. 

Where only a few hens are set they can be placed some 
distance apart, which will prevent the occurrence of this 
difficulty. Often nests are prepared for sitting hens in 
boxes or barrels laid on their side and so arranged that 
the opening can be shut to protect them from marauding 
animals. Where nests are made in a barrel it is well to 
bore holes in the bottom so that if the rain beats in and 
the barrel is tight, the water will drain out and the eggs 
will not lie in water. Where nests are made in boxes or 
on wooden floors it is well to use if possible sod or soil in 
the bottom of the nest, as this holds some moisture and 
seems to give more favorable conditions for a good hatch. 
Nests prepared for laying hens or for sitting hens should 
be roomy enough so that the hens can go on the nest to 
lay, turn around, and come off without breaking the eggs. 

71 



TURKEY RAISING 

Setting the Hen 

A turkey hen shows that she is ready to sit when she 
becomes broody and stays on the nest for two or three 
nights in succession. She may then be trusted with the 
sitting of eggs. If, as is usually advisable, it is desired 
to move the hen from the nest which she has selected 
to another which has been prepared for her, she should 
be moved to the new nest after dark, given a few nest 
eggs and shut on the nest so that she cannot go back 
to the old one. If she seems to be contented on the new 
nest and sits quietly she can be allowed to come off on 
the evening of the following day and the sitting of 
eggs placed in the nest. In most cases on being let off 
the nest she will return to the old nest. If she does so, 
it is, of course, necessary to carry her back to the new 
nest and confine her there. In most cases she will im- 
mediately settle down on the eggs and seem to be con- 
tented. It may happen, however, for two or three days 
longer, that when she is let off in the evening she will 
return to the old nest. Each time she does so it is neces- 
sary to carry her back to the new nest but after three or 
four days at most she will become used to the new nest 
and will remain there. 

Management of Sitting Hen 

When left to themselves turkey hens frequently stay 
on the nest for two or three days at a time without com- 

72 



INCUBATION OF TURKEY EGGS 

ing off for feed or water. It is best, however, when they 
are confined to a coop, to give them an opportunity to 
come off of the nest each day. This will give them 
an opportunity to stretch their wings and to walk 
around and fly a little, and this exercise rests them and 
helps to keep them in the best of condition. Sometimes 
turkey hens sit so closely that they will not come off 
at all of their own accord and will starve unless they 
are made to come off for feed and water. Whole corn 
is one of the best feeds for sitting hens and as much 
of this as they desire should be given them once a day 
when they are let off the nests. Fresh water should also 
be provided at this time as well as a supply of grit. 

Should any of the eggs in the nest become broken and 
soil the others, or if they should become badly soiled in 
any other way it is best to clean them by washing with a 
cloth dipped in luke-warm water. The nesting material 
must also be kept clean. Just before the poults are due to 
hatch it is good practice to remove the old nesting ma- 
terial and replace it with new clean straw or hay. If the 
weather is dry it will usually be found best to sprinkle the 
eggs which are set under turkey or chicken hens two or 
three times during the last week of incubation with water 
heated to blood temperature. It is often good policy to 
remove the first poults which are hatched, taking them 
into the house and wrapping them in flannel or leaving 
them in a flannel lined basket near the stove. If the first 
poults hatched are left with the hen she sometimes be- 
comes restless before the hatch is complete. The poults 

73 



TURKEY RAISING 

which are taken away from her can be returned readily 
after the hatch is complete, putting them under her at 
night. 

Dusting the Sitting Hen for Lice. In order to keep 
the hen faithfully on the job it is necessary to see that 
she is as free as possible from annoyance by lice. To 
accomplish this and also to prevent the lice from being 
troublesome to the young poults when they are hatched, 
the hen should be thoroughly dusted with a good lice 
powder before she is placed on the nest. Similar treat- 
ment should be given to the hen and the nest once a week 
during the first three weeks of the incubation period. 
Do not dust her just before hatching commences as the 
insect powder may prove harmful or fatal to the newly 
hatched poults. An effective homemade lice powder for 
use on turkey hens can be made of I part crude carbolic 
acid and 3 parts gasoline, stirring in enough plaster-of- 
paris to take up all the moisture and to form a dry pow- 
der. In mixing this lice powder do not put the hands into 
the mixture while moist as the carbolic acid may burn 
them slightly. Sodium fluoride is very effective to use in 
dusting the sitting hen. Directions for using this are 
given on page 126. 

Hatching with Chicken Hens 

In hatching with chicken hens a sitting of eggs should 
not be entrusted to them until they show by the fact that 
they have become broody and stayed on the nest for a 

74 



INCUBATION OF TURKEY EGGS 

couple of nights in succession that they are ready to sit. 
When they have shown that they are in proper condition 
they can then be removed to a nest previously prepared for 
them and a couple of nest eggs placed under each hen. 
This should be done in the evening, and if by morning 
they are still sitting closely and seem to be contented in 
their new quarters the sittings of eggs can be placed under 
them. Chicken hens are best set in a house or shed and 
should be confined to the nest. They should be let off once 
a day, preferably toward evening, to get a supply of feed 
and to drink. Whole corn is a good feed for sitting hens. 
As soon as they have eaten and drunk and have exercised 
a few minutes they should be put back on the nest if they 
do not return of their own accord. 

Hatching with an Incubator 

Turkey eggs can be hatched in an incubator almost if 
not quite as successfully as hens' eggs. In fact, in many 
cases turkey eggs will be found to hatch better than the 
average run of hens' eggs, as turkey eggs when fertile and 
from good vigorous stock usually hatch very well. One 
turkey grower has reported as the result of a considerable 
experience in hatching with incubators that he secures 
about 60% vigorous poults from the fertile eggs set. An- 
other grower reports much better success than this, as is 
shown by an instance where 109 poults were secured out 
of 112 fertile eggs. Any of the different styles of incuba- 
tors giving success with hens' eggs can be used for turkey 

75 



TURKEY RAISING 

eggs as well. The thermometer should be so placed that 
the bulb is about on a level with the top of the eggs. If 
the thermometer is left in the same position as when it is 
used in hatching hens' eggs the temperature should be J4 
to I degree lower than that used for hatching hens' eggs. 

A temperature ranging about 102 degrees for the first 
week, slightly more than this for the second week and 
103 degrees the third and fourth weeks seems to give good 
satisfaction. If the temperature runs up to 104 or even 
to 105 at hatching time, it will do no harm. If the hatch- 
ing is completed earlier than with natural incubation, it 
is an indication that a temperature slightly too high is 
being used. Beginning with the third day and continuing 
until the first egg pips, the eggs should be turned twice a 
day, that is, in the morning and in the evening. During 
the first week, the eggs do not need to be cooled longer 
than the time required to turn them leisurely. After the 
first week and until the machine is shut up for hatching, 
they should be cooled until they feel cool when held 
against the face. 

In hatching turkey eggs in an incubator it is best to use 
considerable moisture. A good practice in this respect is 
to sprinkle the eggs with water warmed to about blood 
temperature each day during the last week right up to 
the time the eggs pip, and if the weather is warm and dry 
a dish of warm water should also be placed on the bottom 
of the machine under the egg trays. Poults hatched in an 
incubator seem to be quite as healthy as those hatched 
under turkey or chicken hens. An incubator will accom- 




FIG. 24. Enclosed run for turkey poults made by using 
a wagon box. (Photograph from the Bureau of Animal 
Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 



INCUBATION OF TURKEY EGGS 

modate approximately three-fourths as many turkey eggs 
as it will hens' eggs. 

A good idea of the size of turkey eggs can be secured 
from the following weights of eggs laid by Bronze fe- 
males in a well-bred flock. The medium-sized eggs 
weighed 2% Ibs. per dozen, while the smaller eggs 
weighed 2j^lbs. per dozen. Eggs from a good-sized 
pullet weighed 2^/2 Ibs. per dozen and eggs from a 25- 
pound hen, one of the largest in the flock, weighed 3 Ibs. 
per dozen. As compared with this, average sized hens' 
eggs weigh i l / 2 Ibs. per dozen. 



77 



CHAPTER V 
Brooding and Rearing the Young Stock 

Causes of Loss among Poults. The proper brooding 
and care of the newly hatched poults is perhaps the most 
important factor in raising turkeys successfully. The 
greatest part of the loss of young turkeys occurs when 
the poults are less than a week old. Comparatively few 
are lost after they have attained an age of one month 
except, of course, where there is a disease epidemic. Un- 
der ordinary conditions with fairly good care about 50% 
of the poults hatched out will be reared. This means 
about seven poults for every turkey hen that hatched out 
a brood. Experienced and very careful turkey raisers 
who give their young stock special care and who under- 
stand the nature and the needs of the turkeys are able to 
raise a higher percentage than this. The following may 
be given as the principal causes of heavy losses among 
young turkeys : 

1 i ) Exposure to dampness and cold. 

(2) Improper or over feeding. 

(3) Too close confinement. 

(4) Lice. 

(5) Predatory animals. 

78 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

(6) Inherent weakness due to carelessness in the selec- 
tion of the parent stock or to careless breeding. 

(7) Disease. 

Protection for the Poults 

When the hatch is completed and the young turkeys 
begin to run about outside the nest it is time to move the 
turkey hen and her brood to a suitable place which should 
have been prepared for them previously. Such a coop 
must provide the brood with shelter from the rain, should 
have sufficient room to allow the turkey hen to stand 
up and to walk about, should be so constructed that it 
can be closed at night so that animals cannot get at the 
turkeys, and at the same time must provide plentiful 
ventilation. 

Any type of coop which embodies these requisites will 
be found satisfactory. One coop should be provided for 
each hen and her brood, and there should never be any 
attempt made to place two hens together in the same coop. 
A coop 3 by 6 feet or one 4 feet square will be found a 
suitable size for a hen and brood. One successful turkey 
grower recommends the use of a coop which is 36 by 40 
inches and only 12 inches high. This particular coop 
has a galvanized iron top with slats all the way around 
the outside. The idea of using a low coop is that it com- 
pels the hen to squat or sit so that as long as she is con- 
fined to the coop the young poults can crawl under her if 
they become chilled and will not find her standing up, when 

79 



TURKEY RAISING 

she might refuse to hover them. If it is desired to con- 
fine the poults to this coop for a day or two this can be 
readily done by placing 6 or 8-inch boards against the 
outside of the coop. 

Sometimes a pen made of 12- or 14-inch boards laid on 
edge or a wire pen is used in connection with the coop 
where the hen is confined. Such a yard is used to confine 
the poults until they are old enough to fly over, at which 
time both the poults and the hen are given their liberty. 
The coops should not be placed too close together but 
should preferably be scattered about over the well-drained 
portions of the farm where there is an abundance of ten- 
der green feed and other natural feed such as weeds and 
insects, especially grasshoppers. It is likewise desirable 
to locate the coops where the grass is short. This ac- 
complishes the double purpose of insuring tender green 
feed and also of causing less difficulty from the poults 
getting chilled going through the long wet grass. Where 
the grass is short it is possible to let the poults out earlier 
in the morning. 

It is often desirable to locate the coops where they can 
be readily seen from the house and where it is easy to 
attend to them. This is particularly true when the work 
of caring for the turkeys falls to the lot of the housewife, 
as it makes her work convenient. The coop should be so 
constructed that it can be easily moved, and it should be 
an unvarying practice to move the coop each day to a 
fresh location so that the ground upon which it is placed 
will be kept clean and sweet and there -will always be an 

80 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

opportunity for the hen and her young to secure a supply 
of fresh green feed inside the coop. For this reason the 
coops should be without floors. 

The necessity for plentiful exercise for the poults can- 
not be over emphasized. For this reason they should be 
allowed to run whenever possible. Of course, it is folly 
to let the young run out in rainstorms if this can be 
avoided, but whenever the weather is suitable they should 
be allowed to run even when it is necessary to confine the 
hen. If there is a long continued period of bad rainy 
weather, it will be found as a rule better policy to confine 
the hen but to allow the poults to run out whenever it is 
not actually raining, even if they do have to range through 
damp grass. Since the hen is confined the poults will not 
range far and can always return to her and she will be 
ready to hover them and warm them up if they become 
chilled. 

A well-drained location, such as a sandy or light soil, is 
very desirable in order to keep the interior of the coop 
perfectly dry. A location where there is some protection 
from heavy winds is also desirable. If it becomes neces- 
sary on account of the weather to confine the hen for a 
week or more, this can be done provided she is given 
proper care by being fed and -watered and that the coop 
is moved to fresh ground each day. When the weather 
is warm and dry, as is more likely to be the case with the 
poults hatched later in the season, it is not necessary to 
provide shelter for the hen and poults. In fact, they will 
be likely to do better in the open. It is, however, advisa- 

81 



TURKEY RAISING 

ble to keep them for the first three or four days within a 
fenced enclosure such as a garden until the poults gain 
sufficient strength so that they can keep up with the hen 
without any difficulty. Sometimes the turkey hen instead 
of being shut in a coop is tethered out to a tree or post 
for the first few days by means of a cord fastened to one 
leg. For convenience in moving the hen and her brood 
to fresh ground each day, the cord by which she is tied 
may be fastened to a weight too heavy for her to move. 
Under favorable conditions the hen and brood can be 
allowed to run at liberty after the third or fourth day. 
It is most desirable, however, to keep the youngsters out 
of the heavy dews of the morning and to protect them 
from rain during the first two or three weeks. After 
they have reached this age, especially after their backs are 
covered with feathers, dews or light showers followed by 
warm sunshine are not serious as the poults will warm up 
quickly. If a period of cold damp weather sets in even 
after this age it will be necessary to provide the poults 
with dry quarters and perhaps to keep them from running 
at liberty part of the time. Nothing is more serious and 
fatal to young poults than becoming thoroughly wet and 
chilled. Occasionally young turkeys will get caught in 
severe rainstorms and not be properly hovered by their 
mothers so that they may become thoroughly wet and 
chilled or even drowned. It is occasionally possible to 
revive young turkeys that are apparently dead by wrap- 
ping them in heated cloths and putting them in the house 
behind the stove. 

82 




35 -O 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

While chicken hens are sometimes used as mothers for 
the young turkeys, and while a few persons have used 
artificial methods of brooding with some success, the tur- 
key hen is undoubtedly the best mother that can be pro- 
vided for the young poults. She not only seems to be able 
to make them understand what she wants them to do but 
she is very careful in guarding them from any danger and, 
moreover, while she is ranging she keeps her brood to- 
gether, not allowing them to become widely separated so 
that any of them are not likely to become lost. She is 
especially apt also in teaching them to hunt the kind of 
food such as grasshoppers and other insects which are 
especially well suited for their growth and development. 
Chicken hens are often valuable mothers of the earliest 
turkeys as they can be confined with their broods to better 
advantage during the cold, bad, wet weather so likely to 
be encountered at that time. 

It is often desirable in setting turkey eggs to give a sit- 
ting to a turkey hen and to a chicken hen at the same time 
so that they will hatch out together and all of the poults 
can be given to the turkey hen since she makes a better 
mother. It is best, however, not to give the turkey hen 
more than 20 poults as she will raise a considerably larger 
proportion of this number than if given 30 or 35. 

The principal objections to the chicken hen as a mother 
for turkeys are that she stays too close about the farm 
buildings, that she weans the young turkeys too early and 
that she is more likely to give them lice. Turkeys do best 
when they do not stay too closely about the farmyard and 

83 



TURKEY RAISING 

also when they are kept separate from other fowls and 
chicks. It is quite as necessary to keep turkeys and chick- 
ens separate as it is to separate hogs and sheep. Some- 
times a turkey hen and her brood and a chicken hen and 
her brood of poults of the same age are put out in coops 
near one another. This seems to work to pretty good 
advantage as the turkey hen tends to take the chicken hen 
and her brood farther away from the buildings while the 
chicken hen tends to keep the turkey hen and her brood 
from straying too far. Moreover, when the chicken hen 
weans her little turkeys at an age which is too early for 
their best development, the turkey hen will usually mother 
and care for both broods. 

Bowel trouble or diarrhea is a frequent source of diffi- 
culty with the little turkeys. The causes of bowel trou- 
ble are several and the effects of it on the little turkeys are 
bad. Bowel trouble may result from overfeeding or from 
faulty feeding such as improper feeds or sloppy feeds, 
and may likewise be the result of severe chill. The feed- 
ing of boiled rice is claimed by many turkey growers to 
be a good corrective for diarrhea. It is seldom necessary 
to keep the hen and poults confined for more than a few 
days at a time. The sooner they can be given free range 
the better it will be all around. The question of whether 
they should be put in the coop at night after they have 
ranged during the day up to the time they are ready to 
roost depends both on the weather and the danger that 
exists of their being killed by marauding animals. Occa- 
sional gobblers may prove troublesome in killing young 

84 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

turkeys or young chickens, but this is not very common. 
Where a gobbler shows such a disposition, he must, of 
course, be kept away from the poults until they get older 
or else must be disposed of. On the other hand gobblers 
will occasionally help to brood the young. 

Rearing Poults by Artificial Means 

When the effort is made to brood turkey poults artifi- 
cially some people experience difficulty in getting the young- 
sters to eat, as they seem to go about with their heads up 
in the air and not to see the food on the ground or floor. 
To teach these youngsters to eat, a baby chick or two is 
sometimes put with them and serves by its example to 
teach the turkeys where to find the feed. It is probable, 
however, that in most cases where artificial methods are 
employed there is too great an eagerness on the part of the 
turkey raiser to get the poults to eat, as they should have 
nothing until they are two days old. The yolk of the 
egg which has been absorbed just before the poults 
hatched furnishes all the feed they need during this period. 
There is a grave tendency to over-feed poults -whether 
raised by natural or artificial methods but, of course, this 
is particularly true under artificial conditions where all of 
the feed for the first two or three weeks at any rate is 
supplied by the person looking after the youngsters. 

Where the effort is made to rear turkey poults by arti- 
ficial means the usual course followed is to make use of 
heated brooders such as are used for little chicks. In 

85 



TURKEY RAISING 

general, the management of the poults in the brooders is 
just the same as that given to chicks. It is best not to 
place more than 25 or 30 poults under a hover large 
enough for 50 chicks. In some cases it appears that the 
hovers provided for baby chicks are not quite high enough 
for turkey poults, with the result that they are inclined to 
develop a leg weakness due to their backs being too close 
to the source of heat. The common stove brooder with 
hovers which can be raised can undoubtedly be adapted 
to raising turkey poults artificially to very good advan- 
tage. At first the temperature under the hover should 
be about 90 to 100 degrees and is gradually reduced as 
the turkeys grow older until it is down to 70 degrees in 
about three weeks' time. After the poults are six to 
eight weeks old they no longer need heat as a rule. 

A successful example of rearing turkeys artificially is 
that of the College of Agriculture of the University of 
California at its farm at Davis, Cal., where turkeys are 
run at the rate of about 300 or 400 per acre in yards, 
Here they are hatched and reared artificially with good 
success. The newly hatched poults are started upon a 
moist mixture of equal parts of chick grain and chick 
mash in which there has been mixed a considerable quan- 
tity of very finely chopped tender greens such as onions, 
etc. A power driven meat chopper or sausage cutter is 
used for grinding the green stuff and the juice which is 
extracted in this grinding is used to mix a crumbly mash. 

At first the turkeys are fed four times a day, but after 
a few weeks the feedings are reduced to three a day and 

86 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

at about five weeks of age, grain is fed morning and night 
with a feeding of moist mash and finely cut green stuff at 
noon. This method of feeding is continued until the tur- 
keys are practically full grown. During the non-breeding 
season the adult stock is fed almost entirely upon two 
feedings of grain a day and all of the buttermilk they can 
drink. During the breeding season the birds are given a 
crumbly mash at noon in addition to the grain feeds. 
Plenty of green stuff, grit and shell are always provided. 
No houses have been used, open air roosts 6 or 7 feet high 
being erected in each yard. It is planned, however, to 
erect shed roof houses to furnish shelter from the rain- 
storms. In view of the fact that the turkeys are kept and 
reared under confined conditions new blood has been in- 
troduced into this flock each year. 

Feeding the Poults 

Improper feeding, especially when combined with too 
close confinement, has accounted for many failures in 
turkey raising. When given free range the poults are 
exercising all day long in their search for food and are 
therefore not so likely to be overfed. If the range 
available is abundantly stocked with natural feed and if 
the weather is favorable so that the poults can be al- 
lowed to range all of the time perhaps the best plan 
is to allow the hen and her brood to feed themselves. 
Even under these conditions, however, it is best to have 
the turkeys come home at night and this can be more 

87 



TURKEY RAISING 

readily accomplished if they are driven up to a certain 
place and fed lightly each night. By following this prac- 
tice they soon learn to come to this point daily of their 
own accord. 

Judgment must be exercised in determining whether or 
not the range supplies feed enough early in the season, 
and it is often necessary to continue to supply some feed 
until grasshoppers become plentiful. Where on account 
of unfavorable weather or an unfavorable condition of the 
range or any other cause it seems to be best to keep the 
poults cooped more or less, great care must be exercised 
in their proper feeding, remembering that for the first 
two days after hatching they require no feed. During 
this time clean fresh water and a little coarse sand with 
perhaps a little green feed to pick at is all that they will 
need, but beginning -with the third day it is necessary to 
supply them with feed, the amount required varying ac- 
cording to the amount of natural feed which they are able 
to secure for themselves outside of the coop. The most 
careful judgment of the turkey raiser must be exercised 
in this particular. 

The poults must be kept hungry all the time. They 
should never be fed so much that their desire for ranging 
in search of feed is destroyed as this will lead to a lack of 
exercise with consequent digestive and other troubles. If 
the amount of natural feed which they can secure is very 
scarce or if it is necessary to keep the poults from ranging 
outside to any extent, they should be fc*d lightly about 
five times a day. If they are allowed to run outside the 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

coop and can secure more or less natural feed through 
their own efforts two or three feeds a day are usually 
enough. Sloppy feed should never be given to poults. 

There is a great variety of feeds used for young poults, 
all of which may be successfully employed, the particular 
success attending the different kinds depending to quite 
an extent upon the person who is feeding. The follow- 
ing common feeds used may be mentioned: (i) Hard- 
boiled egg chopped fine together with corn bread crumbs 
for the first few days. After this, whole wheat and hulled 
oats. (2) Stale bread soaked in milk and squeezed dry. 
This is used for the first few days and is then replaced 
with common chick feed. (3) Clabbered milk seasoned 
with salt and pepper together with corn bread crumbs. 
(4) Equal parts pinhead oats, whole -wheat and cracked 
corn. (5) Cracked wheat. (6) Corn meal and wheat 
bran mixed in the proportion of three to one and bakecf 
into a bread which should be baked fairly hard and fed 
in a crumbly condition. (7) Bran or middlings one-half, 
cracked Egyptian corn one-fourth, wheat and hulled oats 
one- fourth. 

Milk is also a most valuable feed for the poults. Usu- 
ally skim milk is used for this purpose but whole milk if 
available can be utilized. The milk is best fed sour as the 
acid in the sour milk seems to have more or less disease 
preventive properties. Sour milk can be left before the 
poults during the morning for a drink, without any water 
being available, and water given to them during the after- 
noon. Water or milk should be given to the poults in a 



TURKEY RAISING 

drinking fountain or in some other manner so that they 
can have ready access to it, but so that they cannot get 
into it and get wet. Rolled oats and corn bread crumbs 
fed in conjunction with sweet milk as a drink where the 
poults can help themselves to it all the morning has been 
a very successful feed, the rolled oats being fed at noon 
and the corn bread crumbs at night. Corn bread seems 
to be a feed of which the poults are fonder than most any 
other. Clabbered milk or cottage cheese and bread soaked 
in milk and then squeezed dry are also feeds which the 
poults like immensely. Hard-boiled eggs rubbed up with 
rolled oats makes a very good feed for young poults until 
they are two or three weeks old. In conjunction with this 
may be fed clabbered milk. 

Another successful feed used by turkey growers con- 
sists of ordinary white wheat bread cut up in slices so as 
to let it dry and then rolled into crumbs. This is mois- 
tened with a little sweet or sour milk and fed mixed with 
hard-boiled eggs. The bread is just moistened and is not 
sticky or sloppy. Any infertile eggs tested out of the sit- 
tings should be saved for this purpose. It is also pos- 
sible when living near a hatchery to purchase infertile 
eggs which have been tested out of the incubators and 
which can be used for this purpose. The wheat bread and 
boiled egg can be fed for about three weeks, mixing with 
it occasionally a little rolled oats. After three weeks, 
rolled oats and chick feed can be gradually substituted and 
after four or five weeks old they are fed grain sparingly 
and only at night when they come home. In this connec- 

90 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

tion it might be well to state that where it is possible to 
do so, it is well to feel of the crops of some of the turkeys 
when they come in at night from the range. If the crops 
are full very little feed should be given, while if the crops 
are partly empty, more feed can be used to advantage. 
Feeling the crop in this way is a guide to the amount of 
grain which should be given. 

Green feed and grit can usually be found by the poults 
if they range outside of their coop. If they are not avail- 
able, however, they must be supplied. Chopped onion 
tops, lettuce leaves, dandelion leaves, kale, cabbage and 
alfalfa make good green feed. Coarse sand furnishes a 
satisfactory form of grit. Charcoal should be available 
to the poults as this is an excellent preventative for di- 
gestive troubles. While the hen is confined to the coop 
she must be carefully fed as well as the poults. To do 
this give her a feed twice a day of all of the grains such 
as equal parts wheat, corn and oats, which she will eat up. 
In addition to this she must be supplied with green feed, 
Water and grit where she can help herself. As an aid 
to keeping her in first-class condition an occasional feed 
of meat scrap or fresh lean meat of some kind will be 
very valuable and is greatly relished. 

In feeding the hen while she is confined to the coop be 
sure to feed her inside while the poults are fed outside of 
the coop. If the poults are given their feed inside the 
coop the hen may eat a large part of it away from them, 
but if they are fed outside it is easier to gauge the amount 
they are eating and to regulate it more intelligently. 



TURKEY RAISING 

Lice on Poults 

One of the greatest causes of mortality in poults is 
lice. If they are badly infested they become weaker and 
weaker and finally die. Head lice are perhaps the most 
serious. These are found burrowing into the skin on 
the top of the head above and in front of the eyes and 
under the throat. If they are discovered it is necessary 
to grease these places carefully, being sure not to use 
too much grease as this in itself may kill the poults. 
For greasing the poults ordinary lard can be used to 
good advantage or lard to which has been added a 
few drops of kerosene. A drop of olive oil is also suitable 
for this purpose. It is. best to grease the poults on a 
warm day or during the warmth of the day. If the effort 
is made to grease them when it is cold the grease does not 
spread to as good advantage and one is more likely to use 
too much grease. 

Frequently quite large numbers of small white lice are 
found in the hollows or creases between the quills of the 
main wing feathers. While these are harmful to the 
poults and must be gotten rid of, they are not as serious 
as the head lice. A little grease or oil applied where the 
lice are found will be effective in getting rid of them. 
Body lice such as occur on chickens are quite common to 
turkeys, but they are not usually found on the young 
poults, occurring as a rule after they are half grown. For 
this reason they are not as serious a thing as the head 
lice. In this matter of lice on poults, as in most of the 

92 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

other factors which are responsible for high mortality 
among young turkeys, there is no reason why it cannot 
be largely if not entirely prevented, by proper attention 
at the proper time. If the hen is dusted with some good 
insect powder during the time she is sitting, as has been 
explained before, page 74, there should be little if any 
trouble with lice on the poults when hatched. Examina- 
tion of the newly hatched poults at frequent intervals for 
lice, and treatment if found, must not be overlooked. See 
page 126. 

Marking and Pedigreeing Turkeys 

It is often desirable to mark little turkeys in some dis- 
tinguishing manner. The need for this may be that the 
turkey raiser has two or more separate matings or blood 
lines and he desires to know from which matings his 
young stock came in order to guide him in making future 
matings. For this purpose the young turkeys can be 
marked by toe punching the web between the toes in the 
same manner as in chickens. The web in turkeys is not so 
large as in chickens, but by using care room enough can be 
found. To make sure that the punch in the web is a per- 
manent mark go over the poults about a week after the 
punching is done. If any punch marks show signs of 
growing shut, punch them out again, after which no 
difficulty will be experienced. 

Poults can also be marked, if desired, by means of 
numbered open pigeon bands, such as are used in pedi- 
greeing chickens, which are put around the leg of the 

93 



TURKEY RAISING 

poults when hatched and in four or five weeks transferred 
to the wings. Colored bands can also be used for this 
purpose, but will require changing several times to a 
larger size to accommodate the growth of the legs. Per- 
manent marks may also be given turkeys by clipping off 
the first joint of the toe, the joint carrying the toe nail. 
By clipping different toes for different matings, a record 
of the breeding can be kept. 

Where the flock of turkeys ranges far and may mix 
with neighbors' turkeys it is desirable to mark them in 
such a way that they can be told from the other turkeys. 
This will prevent disputes as to ownership. The best 
plan, of course, is to keep the turkeys at home by training 
them to come home each night to roost. See page 98. 
Toe marks as explained above, or colored or numbered 
bands, will serve to identify turkeys, while some varieties, 
especially whites, can be easily marked by using a dab of 
colored paint or dye on the back or shoulders. It is quite 
a common practice for neighbors to make a point of 
keeping different varieties of turkeys so that the owner- 
ship of the birds can be easily established. 

Feathering of Poults 

When first hatched, the poults like baby chicks are 
covered with a soft down. In the Bronze variety the 
poults show a brown color over the back with two paral- 
lel, dark brown stripes running from the head over the 
shoulders and back, the breast being of a yellowish white 

94 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

color. This marking is similar to that of chicks from 
partridge matings. Newly hatched black turkey poults 
are only partially black, the entire breast being white. 
Soon after hatching, the wing feathers begin to develop 
and at two weeks old these are long enough to extend 
back of the rump when folded and they cover the back, 
sides and rump. At about 10 days old feathers begin 
to appear at the point where the wings join the body, 
and this feathering gradually extends back to the main 
wing feathers in about a week. In about three weeks 
the tail feathers begin to appear and should be about 
an inch long at the end of the first month. At this 
time the poult is feathered only on the wings and tail, but 
on account of the wing feathering covering the back, the 
poult appears to be feathered from the shoulders to the 
tail. Occasional poults show feathers starting down the 
middle of the back between the shoulders and down each 
side of the breast from the neck, at one month of age. 
Frequently, especially where poults are not making good 
growth, the wing feathers seem to be unusually long as in 
the case of chicks under similar circumstances, so that they 
may touch or nearly touch the ground. This is probably 
not due to an undue growth of wing feathers but to a poor 
growth of body. At any rate such a condition gives the 
poults a weak, sickly, discouraged appearance. 

Some turkey raisers feel that it is a benefit to clip off 
these wing feathers and that by so doing less of the 
strength of the poult goes into the growth of the feathers. 
It is a question whether there is any advantage in such a 

95 



TURKEY RAISING 

practice although the poults with clipped wings seem to 
get around better and to keep cleaner. 

Shooting or Throwing the Red 

At four weeks of age no trace of red will be found 
on the heads or necks of the poults. At five weeks the 
caruncles begin to form and at six weeks of age a trace 
of red can often be seen in the caruncles under the 
feathery down of the neck, and the down begins to be 
shed at this time from that section of the neck. At about 
seven weeks of age the red on the under part of the 
neck can be seen at some distance, particularly in the 
males, but does not become easily visible on the females 
until a week later. Too much dependence, however, 
should not be placed upon being able to differentiate be- 
tween the two sexes of young turkeys at this time, for 
it is only by a very careful comparison that their sex 
can be determined under three months of age. 

The appearance of the red on the head and neck is 
oftentimes termed "shooting the red" or "throwing the 
red," and this in the opinion of many turkey growers is 
a delicate period. At this time the young turkeys are 
inclined to be somewhat less active and some poults may 
be lost at this stage. 

Distinguishing the Sexes 

At the age of about three months there appears on 
the breast of the males a small fleshy protuberance. It 



BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

is from this protuberance that the hair starts to grow 
about two weeks later which eventually forms the tuft 
of hair on the breast known as the beard or tassel. 
While the beard starts growing on the breast of the 
males at about three and a half months, the females do 
not begin to grow a beard until they are about one year 
old. At this age the beard of the male should be from 
3 to 5 inches long and grows longer with additional 
age. Moreover, the beard of the torn is much coarser 
than that of the hen and at any particular age is much 
longer. The feathers on the neck of the male stop far 
down while on the female there is usually a light growth 
of feathers extending along the back of the neck to 
the top of the head in a rather narrow strip. 

The fleshy protuberance which grows just above the 
beak and which is sometimes termed the dewbill or snout 
is larger and more elastic in the male than in the female. 
In toms under one year of age there is only a short blunt 
knob on the inside of the shank. As the bird grows older 
this develops into a stout spur. In the case of the hen, 
however, there is only a rudimentary spur or small button 
found. In the torn the breast bone tends to be more or 
less in a straight line, -while in the hen it is as a rule curved 
to a greater extent, thus forming a rounder breast. Of 
course in the case of the Bronze and Bourbon Red, the 
breast and body feathers of the female are tipped with 
white, while the feathers of the male show n6 white tip- 
ping in these sections. 

97 



TURKEY RAISING 

Management of Growing Turkeys 

As soon as the young turkeys are six weeks old they are 
old enough to go to roost. Most turkey raisers allow the 
birds to roost out in the open in trees or on fences. Some 
turkey raisers, however, build roosts especially for them. 
If high winds are prevalent it is well to build the turkey 
roosts next to the barn or some shed which will afford pro- 
tection from the wind. It is natural for turkeys to roost 
high and it is well therefore to construct the roosts for 
them set up on posts at least 5 or 6 feet from the ground. 
Often they are built higher than this, sometimes as high as 
8 or 10 feet. In the latter case, however, it is necessary to 
provide roosts of intermediate height or cleated runways 
by means of which the younger turkeys can get up to the 
higher roosts. High roosts are desirable since they pro- 
tect the birds from loss due to foxes or coyotes. In sec- 
tions where difficulty is experienced owing to thefts of 
turkeys, it is well to construct the roosts near the residence 
so that any disturbance can be heard. Sometimes a 
guinea chick or two is raised with the turkeys and will 
remain and roost with them. If there is any disturbance 
during the night the guinea will make a great uproar and 
serve as an alarm. 

It is possible to teach the young turkeys to roost 
wherever desired. This is done by driving them up to 
the place where they are to roost and feeding them there 
just before dark. If they are held in this place until dusk 
falls they will then go to roost on the places provided for 

98 







60 



O en 

II 





BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

them. By repeating this a few times the turkeys will 
learn to come to this particular spot to be fed and will 
roost on the roosts provided for them of their own 
accord. 

During the summer and the early part of the fall there 
is a great abundance of feed suitable for turkeys which 
they can get through their own efforts if they are allowed 
to range. It is this fact which makes the raising of tur- 
keys, after they have passed the danger point, such a 
simple and such a cheap process. The feed which they 
are able to secure consists of the various weed and grass 
seeds, the grain which has been shelled in the field, green 
vegetation and all kinds of insects, especially grasshoppers 
where they are abundant. In parts of Texas, wild grapes 
are plentiful and the turkeys eat these readily. More- 
over, during the fall the turkeys will eat quantities of 
nuts such as pecans, beech nuts and acorns if these are 
available, and with a plentiful supply of this feed they will 
fatten to good advantage of their own accord. Where 
this natural feed is abundant, therefore, it is unnecessary 
to provide the birds with any other feed except such as 
may be given them each night in order to teach them to 
come home to roost. 

In order to prevent, insofar as possible, the trouble 
which may occur due to the turkey flock ranging over the 
neighbors' farms, it may in some cases be desirable to 
feed more heavily than would otherwise be done in order 
to reduce their desire for ranging. Even with this pre- 
caution, however, there is a decided tendency for them to 

99 



TURKEY RAISING 

range a long way. This can be prevented to some extent 
and probably most effectively by driving the turkeys into 
a fenced enclosure such as might be used for a breeding 
pen in the spring and keeping them there until about 
noon. During the warm weather the turkeys do most 
of their ranging in the morning. During the heat of the 
day they are inclined to stay in the shade and not range 
very far. By confining them during the morning, there- 
fore, they will not start ranging until late in the afternoon 
and are not likely to go very far. If the practice is made 
of feeding the turkeys each morning in the pen where 
they are to be confined, they will go there of their own ac- 
cord when they come down from the roosts and no great 
trouble will ensue in shutting them up. Clipping the flight 
feathers of one wing will prevent them from flying out of 
the pen. 

It may sometimes pay, if a considerable flock of tur- 
keys is reared, to hire a boy or two to herd the birds. 
This will make it possible to protect the flocks from the 
attacks of any animals and will also prevent any difficulty 
from the birds going on neighbors' farms without per- 
mission. It also makes it possible to drive the birds and 
keep them in any particular field where the insects may 
be bad and where they can do the most good. With some- 
one to look after the flock of turkeys and keep them 
within bounds, there will often be calls from the neigh- 
bors for the flock to be turned into fields where they are 
having trouble with grasshoppers or other insects, and 

100 




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BROODING AND REARING YOUNG STOCK 

this provides additional room and sources of food supply 
for the flock. 

It is desirable to arrange the hatching in such a way 
that two or three turkey hens with broods of about the 
same age can be turned out to free range at the same time. 
If they are turned out together in this manner they usu- 
ally remain in one flock, which makes it easier to hunt 
them up and care for them than would be the case if each 
brood was by itself. It is not, however, desirable to turn 
more than two or three broods into one flock as there is a 
tendency for the poults all to try to crowd under one or 
two hens to be hovered, with the result that this is not 
properly accomplished. Occasionally one or more hens 
has a bell hung around its neck. This serves a useful 
purpose in making it easier to locate the flock of turkeys 
at night when they are to be driven home or at any other 
time when it is desired to find them. The young turkeys 
usually remain with their mother until October or No- 
vember, when they are weaned. At this time the males 
usually separate from the females and range by them- 
selves. 



101 






CHAPTER VI 

Marketing 

Time of Marketing. The two principal times of year 
when turkeys are in great demand are the Thanksgiving 
and Christmas holiday seasons. It is at this time that the 
great majority of turkeys is shipped to market as the de- 
mand for this class of poultry is especially heavy. Tur- 
keys in lesser quantities are shipped to market at other 
seasons, but compared with the Thanksgiving and Christ- 
mas trade this casual shipment is of very minor volume 
and goes principally to supply hotel and restaurant trade. 
Usually there is more or less of a surplus of turkeys for 
the Thanksgiving and Christmas markets accumulating 
between these two dates, which is put into cold storage 
and is later withdrawn as the demand occasions, largely 
to supply hotel and restaurant trade. 

Size of Young Turkeys. Where some standard vari- 
ety is kept and where the stock is strong and vigorous 
and the youngsters have been given an opportunity to 
make good growth, there should be no difficulty in getting 
cockerels to weigh 15 to 20 pounds and pullets 12 to 14 
pounds for the Thanksgiving market, or in other words 
at an age of five to six months. Many of the ordinary 
mongrel flocks will of course fail to reach these weights, 

1 02 



MARKETING 

while occasional individuals of any of the standard varie- 
ties will also prove to be small or slow growers. 

Principal Markets and Market Demands 

The principal markets are, of course, the large cities. 
The highest priced markets are those of the large cities of 
the East such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia. 
There are no special demands for particular classes of tur- 
keys other than the fact that a medium-sized bird is in gen- 
eral in greater demand than the larger birds. As these 
latter are suitable only for exceptionally large families or 
for hotel or restaurant trade after the Thanksgiving and 
Christmas holidays the demand for larger birds is not 
nearly so good and for this reason any exceptionally large 
fowls should be shipped for one or other of these occa- 
sions. Occasionally there is a demand for turkey broilers, 
that is, young turkeys weighing two or three pounds, but 
this demand is very limited and the supply of turkeys 
which will be sold at this age is also very small. It will 
ordinarily pay the turkey grower better to raise his tur- 
keys to a larger size than to turn them off as broilers. 
Sometimes late hatched birds can be disposed of in this 
manner to good advantage. 

Most of the markets prefer dry picked turkeys and 
while most consumers prefer a yellow carcass, still the 
color of the skin and legs has little or no effect on the 
market demand. In this connection it might be stated 
that the Black turkey, contrary to the expectation of many 

103 



TURKEY RAISING 

people, dresses out into a nice plump yellow carcass. Most 
of the markets at the present time demand dressed tur- 
keys to be picked clean, although there is a considerable 
demand for birds in which the largest feathers after the 
flights are pulled, that is, the flight coverts, have been left 
on the last joint of the wings. This demand has grown 
up from the custom of cutting off the last joint of the 
wing and using it for a brush about the kitchen. 

There is also a very limited demand for turkeys to be 
marketed with the feathers on. This is true especially 
with large toms. These birds are utilized for hanging 
out in front of restaurants or retail shops. If the turkey 
grower makes any effort to dress turkeys for the market 
he should get in touch with the dealer through whom he 
expects to market in order to learn what the preferences 
are with respect to the manner of dressing. 

Fattening Turkeys 

The usual custom in fattening turkeys for the market 
is to begin to feed them heavily about November i. The 
results of this are not the best. Beginning to feed heavily 
at this date without accustoming the birds gradually to 
the heavy feeding is likely to cause scours or bowel 
trouble with the result that the birds get out of con- 
dition and do not fatten as well as expected. Another 
difficulty caused by the heavy feeding at this time is 
the prevalent custom of using new corn. If the birds 
are gradually accustomed to new corn they can be fed 

104 



MARKETING 

on it quite heavily without bad results, but to feed it 
in considerable quantities at the start is very likely to 
cause scours. 

A better practice in fattening is to begin feeding for 
this purpose at night and morning about October i. At 
first the feeds should be light so that the birds will go 
away feeling a little hungry. As they become used to 
being fed the amount can be gradually increased until dur- 
ing the week previous to sending them to the market they 
can be given all they will eat up three times a day. Corn 
is the grain which is most commonly used for this purpose 
and is excellent especially during the latter part of the 
feeding when the weather is cooler. Some turkey raisers 
feed wheat and oats during the first part of the fattening 
period and gradually change to corn with the cooler 
weather. It will be found that not all turkeys are fat- 
tened with equal facility and the usual practice is to pick 
out the birds which have fattened and are in pretty good 
shape for sending to the Thanksgiving market and to con- 
tinue to feed the others in order to get them in better 
shape for the Christmas market. Sometimes also it is 
good policy for the turkey raisers if they have lots of 
feed on hand and if their turkeys are a little late or not 
in prime condition, to hold them over past the Thanks- 
giving market so as to have a longer fattening period to 
put them in better condition. As a rule more attention 
is paid to fattening and finishing the turkeys by the rais- 
ers in the North. As a result of this the southern turkeys 
are inclined to run poorer in quality and it is for this 

105 



TURKEY RAISING 

reason that the northern raised turkey is in better repute 
on the market. 

While the turkeys in the best condition for marketing 
should be selected to send to the Thanksgiving and Christ- 
mas markets, it is necessary here for the turkey raiser to 
use judgment in not selecting all of the best birds of the 
flock for this purpose. In other words, he should pick 
out the strongest, most vigorous, best grown, early ma- 
turing birds to reserve as breeders. Failure to do this and 
to send all such birds to the market simply because they 
are in condition will result in his having a lot of small, 
less thrifty, late maturing birds left for breeders, and this 
will of course lead to deterioration in his flock. 

Sometimes the effort is made to fatten the turkeys by 
penning them in a relatively small enclosure and feeding 
them there with the idea that by preventing their ranging 
they will not use up so much of their energy in this way 
and more of the feed will go to flesh. While turkeys 
penned in this manner usually eat well for a day or two, 
after a few days they are likely to go off their feed, lose 
their appetites and lose flesh rather than gain it. For 
this reason it is not well as a rule to attempt to pen the 
turkeys when fattening them, but they should rather be 
allowed to continue on free range where they will keep 
in better condition and will be eager for their feed and, 
therefore, more inclined to fatten to good advantage. 

Where turkeys have free range under conditions where 
there are large quantities of nuts such as beech nuts, chest- 
nuts, pecans and acorns, little attention need be given to 

106 



MARKETING 

fattening the turkeys. With an abundance of material 
of this sort the turkeys will fatten themselves and can be 
marketed in fairly good condition. 

Caponizing 

As a class the young males are harder to fatten than 
the females. They are especially hard to get in good 
market condition by Thanksgiving time. This is due 
in part to the fact that they have larger frames and that 
it requires a longer feeding period to flesh them in good 
shape. It is likewise due to the fact that the young 
males are inclined to separate from the flock and to range 
by themselves over a much wider area, and this increased 
activity on their part makes them more difficult to fatten. 
While caponizing has never been practiced to any great 
extent on turkeys it is no more difficult an operation than 
is the case with common fowls and is performed in the 
same manner and with the same instruments. The result 
of the operation is to render the males quieter in disposi- 
tion. They do not gobble or strut. It is probable that 
on account of the quieting effect it has on them that they 
would not be inclined to separate from the flock, as do the 
uncaponized males, and that they would not, therefore, 
range so far. For this reason it would probably be some- 
what easier to fatten the turkey capons, especially in time 
for the Thanksgiving market. Uncaponized young toms 
are as a rule in much better condition in January than 
they are in November. 

107 



TURKEY RAISING 

Selling Turkeys Alive 

The majority of turkey raisers sell their birds alive. 
This is true in practically all cases except for local trade, 
and in some sections of the country where the areas of 
production are situated fairly close to the large markets 
such, for example, as New England and New York State. 
The usual manner of selling is for the producer to ship 
his turkeys by express if he is fairly close to a good 
market and the number of birds he has to handle rela- 
tively few, to sell them to a poultry produce concern or 
poultry buyer in the nearby village, or to sell them to 
turkey buyers who may visit his farm. The size of 
coop used for shipping turkeys alive varies greatly. In 
some states the law requires that the coops be not less 
than 2 feet high in order to make them more comfortable 
for the turkeys. Many shippers, however, use coops 
which are 1 6 to 20 inches high, and if anything, the tur- 
keys will go through in coops of this height with less 
loss than in the higher coops, due to the fact that it 
is impossible for the birds to get on top of one another. 
A cheap, simply constructed coop often used is one 2 
feet 4 inches wide, 3 feet 10 inches long, and 19 inches 
high, constructed with a solid wooden bottom and with 
a wooden frame covered with wire. This coop is divided 
into two sections by means of a partition in the center. 
If desired, the coop can, of course, be made higher than 
this. 

In the sections of the country such as the Middle West 

108 




FIG. 31. Turkey capon at six months of age. Notice the fem- 
inine appearance and the big frame. (Photograph from the Bu- 
reau of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 




.1 






MARKETING 

and Texas where the bulk of the turkeys are grown, there 
are poultry packing houses which are prepared to handle 
and which do handle large quantities of turkeys at the 
proper season, busying themselves with chickens and eggs 
during the remainder of the year. These are concentrat- 
ing points for the live turkeys and here they are either 
dressed, which is the usual procedure, or else shipped to 
market alive in car lots. In sections like Texas, where 
turkeys are plentiful, it is quite a prevalent custom for 
hucksters to go out through the country buying turkeys 
from the farmers, adding them to their flock and driving 
the flock along the roads until they reach the killing sta- 
tion or concentration point. In this way flocks of tur- 
keys are often gathered together running to more than 
1,000 in number. 

In the season of 1912 there were gathered in this way 
8,000 turkeys which were concentrated at Myersville, 
Tex., and driven from this point to Cuero, Tex., a dis- 
tance of 13 miles. This drive from Myersville to Cuero 
was accomplished in two days with the aid of 30 men. 
Smaller flocks can of course be driven more rapidly. A 
flock of 700 turkeys was driven over this same distance 
in 8^2 hours, five men being employed in the drive. It 
is usual to make use of a team and wagon in connection 
with these drives, the wagon going on in front and the 
driver throwing out a little corn from time to time in 
order to get the birds to follow. Such a wagon is also 
useful for picking up and hauling the rest of the way 
any birds which become lame or tired or which cannot 

109 



TURKEY RAISING 

keep up on account of being very fat. Where the flocks 
are driven over a period of several days it is necessary 
when night comes on to pick a spot in a grove or some 
similar place where there are plenty of trees for the birds 
to roost. When darkness comes the turkeys will start 
going to roost wherever they may be and it is necessary to 
select a place where they can be kept together and easily 
guarded. When the drive arrives at the killing station 
the birds are weighed up and driven into pens from which 
they are drawn for killing or to fill cars for shipment alive. 

Killing and Dressing 

Turkeys should be killed and dressed as soon after they 
arrive at the killing station as possible. On account of 
their free roaming nature turkeys do not stand confine- 
ment well and when shut in coops under conditions to 
which they are not used, they shrink in weight rapidly. 
It is to avoid this shrinkage that the killing should be 
done promptly. 

Practically all turkeys are dry picked. This is done 
partly because the market demands dry picked birds and 
partly because the feathers are valuable and are saved to 
sell. Scalding injures the feathers. Turkeys are loose- 
feathered birds and are easier to dry pick than any other 
class of fowl unless it be pheasants. In this connection 
it is interesting to note that experienced pickers always 
seem to choose the dark-colored turkeys in preference to 
the white ones as being easier to pick, claiming that the 

no 




FIG. 33. Woman dry picking a turkey. Notice the blood can 
and also the convenient means of hanging the turkey in position 
by slipping its legs into the slots cut in the scantling. (Photo- 
graph from the Bureau of Animal Industry, U. S. Department of 
Agriculture.) 




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MARKETING 

feathers of the white variety do not mature or ripen so 
early. 

The usual procedure in a turkey killing plant is to put 
15 or 20 turkeys in a cage for a picker to draw his birds 
from. The picker selects a bird, takes it out of the cage, 
hangs it up by the feet by means of a cord, then proceeds 
to bleed and stick. Often two cords are used for hanging 
up the bird, a cord being placed about each foot. Instead 
of cords wire shackles are also made, having a place in 
which each foot can be easily slipped. The use of such a 
shackle saves time and also holds the legs in such a posi- 
tion as to make picking easier. The bleeding is accom- 
plished by cutting the veins in the throat just at the rear 
edge of the skull. A cut properly made at this point will 
result in free bleeding. The picker then sticks the bird, 
that is, plunges the knife through the roof of the mouth 
to a point between and a little back of the eyes, or this 
same point may be reached by a stick from the outside 
starting the point of the knife just under the eye. A very 
good knife for this purpose is one made from a single flat 
piece of steel about 1/16 inch thick, with a handle 5 inches 
inches long and J4 inch wide. The blade should be 2^/2 
inches long and J4 inch wide, ground to a point and 
sharpened to a straight cutting edge on the inner side. 
For best results this knife must be kept very sharp. When 
the knife reaches the brain which is the object of the stick, 
the picker usually turns it somewhat, which causes a con- 
vulsion of the muscles. If the stick is good in this re- 
spect the feathers will then come out easily. As soon as 

III 



TURKEY RAISING 

the stick is made a blood can, weighted with lead or some 
other heavy material, is fastened by means of a wire hook 
into the lower jaw of the bird to keep the bird's head 
down and to receive the drip of blood. 

Turkeys are frequently killed by bleeding only, that is 
to say, without following the bleeding by sticking. This 
manner of killing usually results in a better bled bird but 
does not make picking as easy. In some states the law 
requires that if a bird is killed by bleeding only it must 
first be stunned by hitting it on the back of the head with 
a club. Good bleeding is necessary in order to secure a 
carcass which looks well and which keeps well. 

The picker first removes the main tail feathers with one 
motion and next the main wing feathers. These large 
feathers are put in a separate bin from the body feathers. 
The next operation is to pick off the body feathers which 
is accomplished very rapidly by expert pickers. In the 
special turkey-dressing establishments it is common prac- 
tice to have the shackle, by means of which the bird is 
hung, mounted on a track. After the bird is stuck the 
shackle is wheeled over a barrel or bin in which the main 
tail and wing feathers are allowed to fall. It is then 
moved over another bin into which the body feathers are 
allowed to fall. This makes the separation of the two 
classes of feathers easy. As soon as the body feathers are 
removed the picker then goes over the bird carefully to 
remove the pin feathers. Pickers become very expert and 
can entirely finish a bird in a few minutes. In Texas a 
good many negroes and Mexicans are employed for this 

112 



MARKETING 

purpose. In other places the best pickers are white men. 
Women are also employed to a large extent in picking, 
especially for pinning or finishing up the birds. The price 
paid for picking runs about 4 cents apiece for hen turkeys 
and 5 cents for toms. After the bird is thoroughly 
picked, the blood is washed from the head, and the feet 
are also washed if very dirty, and it is laid on a rack with 
other dressed birds. 

When the rack is filled it is wheeled into a cold storage 
room where the temperature is a little above freezing. 
The turkeys are left in this room until the body heat is 
thoroughly out of the birds. This may take from 12 to 
24 hours. When the birds are thoroughly cooled they are 
graded according to size and condition and are packed in 
suitable containers for shipping to market. 

Packing 

Turkeys are put up in two ways: either in boxes or 
barrels. Probably there are more barrel turkeys than 
box turkeys, although boxes are used very largely on 
the Pacific Coast markets and to a considerable extent in 
other markets. Both barrels and boxes are lined with 
clean wrapping paper or parchment paper and the heads 
of the turkeys are likewise wrapped with clean paper. 
White lumber such as cottonwood is the kind favored for 
making the barrels and boxes. It is said that pine will 
impart a flavor and odor to poultry when packed in it. 
Where turkeys are packed in barrels there are as a rule 



TURKEY RAISING 

six layers of hen turkeys with five hens to the layer and 
four or five layers of toms with four to the layer, this of 
course depending on the size of the birds. On the aver- 
age a barrel will hold about 250 pounds of turkey. 

There are two principal sizes of boxes used for packing 
turkeys, one used for hens and the other for toms. The 
standard dimensions for these boxes are as follows : Tur- 
key torn boxes, ends 24 x 12 x ^ inches ; sides 28 x 12 x 
% ; tops and bottoms 28 x 24^ x ^ ; turkey hen boxes, 
ends 20 x 1 1 x % inches ; sides 30 x 1 1 x y% inches ; tops 
and bottoms, 30 x 20^4 x ^ inches. 

The turkeys are packed in these boxes in two layers, 
the torn boxes holding layers of six each or 12 to the box, 
while the hen boxes hold layers of eight each or 16 to the 
box. The boxes make a much neater package than do the 
barrels and it is also possible to pack the turkeys in them 
in better shape as they do not have to be doubled up as is 
done when packed in barrels. It is claimed, however, that 
the cost of packing in boxes is about a half cent per pound 
more than packing in barrels. After the turkeys are 
packed, the box or barrel should be plainly marked with 
the number and kind of turkeys which it contains and 
with the gross, tare and net weight. 

After the turkeys are packed either in barrels or boxes 
they are put into what is called the sharp freezer, that is 
to say, a cold-storage room where the temperature is con- 
siderably below freezing. Here they are frozen solid and 
held until they are to be shipped. They are shipped in re- 

114 




o o 



MARKETING 

frigerator cars each of which will hold from 20,000 to 
25,000 pounds of dressed poultry. 

Turkey Feathers 

In plucking the turkeys the wing and tail feathers are 
kept separate in one bin and the soft body feathers in 
another bin. The wing and tail feathers are referred 
to in the trade as quills. Various other trade names are 
applied to different grades of these feathers. At times, 
depending upon the demand, white body feathers and 
white quills are worth considerably more money than 
the dark or mixed feathers and, for this reason, the 
white feathers are kept separate in many establishments. 

Scalded feathers are not worth as much as dry picked 
feathers. Likewise, feathers which are freshly packed 
and therefore damp, not having been given a chance to 
dry out, are likely to arrive at their destination matted 
and musty or heated. Such feathers are not worth as 
much and are discounted according to their condition. 

Turkey feathers have a variety of uses, the demand for 
the different classes of feathers and for the various uses 
depending to quite an extent upon prevailing fashions. 
At certain times the white quills are in active demand for 
millinery purposes while at other times, white quills are 
almost a drug on the market and must be mixed with dark 
quills in order to sell them to concerns which manufacture 
feather dusters. Practically all dark quills are used in 
the manufacture of feather dusters, these being split and 



TURKEY RAISING 

milled by machinery. At times, especially when feather 
boas are in fashion, the white turkey body feathers are in 
considerable demand for this purpose and the price runs 
much higher than at other times. Dark body feathers 
and also white body feathers when not in special demand 
for other purposes are used mainly in making feather 
beds and pillows. 

The prices paid for feathers not only vary quite widely 
according to their kind, color and condition, but also at 
different times of the year and in different sections of the 
country due to the changes in fashion in women's dress. 
The quotations given herewith represent the range of 
prices paid at three different points during March, 1920: 

Dark turkey body feathers, full 

fleece . .20 to 55 cents a pound 

White turkey body feathers, full 

fleece 45 to 80 cents a pound 

Dark turkey quills 10 to 13 cents a pound 

White turkey quills .10 to 25 cents a pound 

In the case of any mixture of feathers either of class, 
grade or color, the feathers as a whole will bring only the 
price of the cheapest feathers in the mixture. 

All turkey feathers will heat if sacked for shipment 
before being thoroughly aired and dried. Even though 
they are apparently dry, they will become warm and damp 
again in a short time when sacked, unless the animal heat 
has been thoroughly removed. To dry them spread them 

116 



MARKETING 

out on a clean floor, such as a loft above the killing and 
picking room, in a layer not over 4 to 6 inches deep and 
turn them each day until they are dry, giving them plenty 
of air. Turkey quills, particularly tails, should also be 
thoroughly aired before packing as only dry quills bring 
the top price for this class of feathers. The body feath- 
ers should be packed in sacks for shipment. Packed in 
this way, the freight rate is one and a half times first 
class. If shipped in boxes or barrels, they take double 
first-class rate. Quills should be laid straight in boxes or 
bags for shipment. If they are stuffed carelessly in bags 
they are broken to some extent. If good sacks are used 
and care is taken to lay the quills in them as straight as 
possible, they can be shipped in this way fairly satisfac- 
torily, although they will not go through in as good shape 
as when packed in boxes. Like the body feathers, when 
shipped in barrels or boxes they take a double first-class 
rate, while in bags they take one and a half times first 
class. 

Dressing on the Farm 

For local trade, or in certain sections within easy ship- 
ping distance of some of the larger markets and where 
considerable numbers of turkeys are raised in a small 
area, it is common practice to dress the turkeys on the 
farm. This is done in sections of the New England and 
Middle Atlantic states where the birds are either sold 
direct to the consumer, to city dealers, or to buyers who 
come into the locality. In Heuvelton and Lisbon, N. Y., 

117 



TURKEY RAISING 

for example, there is held each year shortly before 
Thanksgiving, a turkey day. On the day before this 
event the farmers kill and dress their turkeys, using 
the same methods as are employed in the packing plants 
except that the birds are allowed to cool by hanging them 
out over night, provided the weather is cool enough to 
reduce their temperature to about 35 degrees. If the 
weather is not cool enough for this purpose they are 
put into ice water and cooled in this manner. 

Care must be taken in cooling turkeys by hanging them 
outdoors to see that the temperature is not so severe that 
the turkeys will freeze on the outside before the body 
heat has left the interior of the birds, as this will cause 
them to spoil rather quickly. The turkeys to be killed 
should not be fed on that day or the previous night, ex- 
cept the little that may be necessary to entice them into 
the barn or some other building to catch them. Feeding 
before slaughter causes the crop to be distended with feed 
and makes an unsightly carcass. On the next day the 
farmers bring their dressed turkeys into the town by 
wagon. A number of turkey buyers representing differ- 
ent concerns are present and they bid for and buy the tur- 
keys at the street curb. 

In a general way it may be said that it is hazardous for 
the farmer to attempt to dress and ship his turkeys to 
market, since with small lots he does not have refrigerator 
facilities and since he usually makes no effort to ice his 
turkeys. If the weather happens to turn warm or if the 
shipment is delayed, there is a grave chance of the birds 

118 



MARKETING 

arriving at market in bad condition. If the turkey grower 
desires to dress and ship turkeys it is best to pack them in 
a barrel, alternating each layer of turkeys with a layer of 
ice. In this condition the turkeys have a much better 
chance to come through in good shape. 

It is sometimes advisable for the turkey grower when 
taking advantage of an opportunity to retail his birds, 
not only to kill and pluck them, but to draw them as well. 
Whether or not this should be done will depend entirely 
upon the trade which he has and the demands which are 
made on him for this work. Usually the drawing which 
is done by the grower consists simply in cutting around 
the anus and in drawing the intestine out through the hole 
thus made until the gizzard is reached when it is broken 
off. It is seldom desirable to remove the other organs or 
to attempt to remove the crop unless the crop is filled with 
feed and as a result is likely to turn dark in color and 
spoil the appearance of the bird. 

Shipping Turkeys Alive 

Turkeys are shipped alive either in small lots by ex- 
press, where the distance from the farm to the market 
is not great, or in large lots by freight where they can 
be concentrated in carloads. Because of the fact that 
turkeys shrink a good deal when shipped any great 
distance alive, the turkeys are for the most part killed 
and dressed before shipping. However, quite a good 
many carloads of live turkeys are sent through. An- 

119 



TURKEY RAISING 

nually just before Thanksgiving and also before Christ- 
mas a train known as the Turkey Special is made up at 
Morristown, Tenn., and rushed direct from there to 
Jersey City as quickly as possible. This train usually 
consists of a number of cars of live poultry, most of 
which are turkeys, together with some cars of dressed 
poultry. In shipping the turkeys, both the especially con- 
structed live poultry transportation company cars and 
ordinary stock cars are utilized. 

The live poultry transportation cars are manufactured 
for the purpose of shipping live fowls. These cars con- 
sist of a series of cages built up on each side of the car 
with an aisle between and with a feed room in the center. 
Each car contains 128 cages. Since they are built for 
chickens they are about 12 inches high and do not allow 
the turkeys to stand erect unless the flooring between two 
cages is taken out and this is not a usual practice. Each 
cage will hold from 7 to 12 turkeys according to their 
size and as a rule about 1,200 live turkeys can be loaded 
in a car. The minimum weight for which the shipper 
must pay in using one of these cars is 18,000 pounds and 
it is difficult to load this weight of turkeys in a car. 
When stock cars are used, ordinary wooden shipping 
cages or coops are employed and are piled one on top of 
another. These wooden coops are usually deeper than 
the coops in the live poultry transportation cars with the 
result that not as many coops can be put in nor as many 
turkeys shipped in one of these cars. However, the birds 

120 







>- 



MARKETING 

which are so shipped are not as crowded and for that rea- 
son go through in a little better shape. 

In the live poultry transportation cars an attendant 
accompanies each car. It is the duty of this man to feed 
and water the birds, to see that the car goes through as 
promptly as possible, and that the birds are weighed cor- 
rectly when they are unloaded. The cars are provided 
with troughs for each coop and in this is fed a sloppy 
mixture of crushed corn and water. When the weather 
is cool, as it usually is at this time of the year, no other 
water is given to the turkeys. About 12 hours before 
the train is due to arrive at Jersey City the turkeys are 
given all the whole corn that they will eat with the object 
of cutting down the shrinkage as much as possible. How- 
ever, during the journey the turkeys are much disturbed 
and do not eat very well so that their shrinkage is high. 

Shrinkage on a car of live turkeys will run as a rule 
from 12 to i$% as compared with the shrinkage on a car 
of chickens under the same conditions which runs from 
9 to 10%. A few of the turkeys die during the trip or 
are accidentally killed. However, the loss from this 
source is not large, probably not amounting to more than 
i%. The cost of shipping live turkeys from Tennessee 
to New York City will run better than 5 cents a pound. 
In addition to this cost of shipment 5% commission must 
be deducted for handling the turkeys on the market. 

When the cars of live turkeys arrive at the railroad 
terminal in Jersey City the turkeys are unloaded and 
weighed as soon as possible. The commission firm to 

121 



TURKEY RAISING 

which the turkeys are sent has a man on hand who sees 
to removing the birds, cooping them, and weighing them 
up, the attendant who came with the car checking the 
weights for the shipper. After weighing, the coops are 
ferried across the Hudson River to New York and dis- 
tributed by the commission firm among retailers through- 
out the city, who dress and sell them to the consumers. 
Some wholesale dealers, however, buy the turkeys them- 
selves, dress them and then sell to the retailer. 

Market Prices 

The following are wholesale quotations for the dif- 
ferent grades of turkeys on the New York market as 
reported by the New York Produce Review under date 
of November 24 and December 22, 1920: 

November 24, 1920. 

Spring, dry packed, boxes : Western, dry picked, hens and toms, 
selected, per lb., 54@55<; southern, 53@54P; western and southern, 
fair to good, 5O@52# ; old hens and toms, 50$. 

Spring, dry packed, barrels: Maryland, dry picked, hens and 
toms, selected, 6o@62#; poor to good, 45@58tf; culls, 35@4<>tf; old 
hens, 5O@54^; old toms, 48(0)52$; Virginia, selected, dry picked, 
53@56?; scalded, 51(0)54^; poor to good, 45@5otf; culls, 35@4O^J 
Western, selected, 52(0)54^; poor to good, 45(0)50^; culls, 35@4otf; 
Kentucky and Tennessee, selected, 5i@52#; Texas, selected, 5i@ 
53^; poor to good, 45@5otf; culls, 35@4otf; western and southern 
old toms and old hens, 47@49^. 

Spring, iced: Western, dry picked hens and toms, selected, 
50(0)52^; poor to good, 42@48#; western, old toms and old hens, 
4<5@48$ ; southern, hens and toms, selected, 48^ ; poor to good, 4i@ 
47#; culls, 35@400; Ohio and Michigan, scalded, selected, 5i@53#; 
other western, scalded, selected, 48@5i^; Virginia, Tennessee and 
Kentucky, scalded, selected, 46(^48^; poor to good, 42@45#; culls 

122 



MARKETING 

December 22, 1920. 

Spring, dry packed, boxes : Western, dry picked, hens and toms, 
selected, per lb., 56@s8$ ; southern, 55@57# ; western and southern, 
fair to good, 50(0)54^ ; old hens, 49@50# ; old toms, 46@48tf. 

Spring, dry packed, barrels : Maryland, hens and small to 
medium toms, selected, 6i@6^ ; large toms, 6o@6itf; fair to good, 
55@6otf; Maryland, old hens, S@5 2 ^'> old toms, 48(5)50^; Virginia 
and West Virginia, selected, 56@s8tf ; fair to good, 5O@53# ; Western, 
selected, 55@57#; fair to good, 5O@54#; poor, 44(0)48?; Kentucky 
and Tennessee, selected, 52@54^; Texas, selected, 52@S4^; fair to 
good, 47@5itf ; poor, 43(0)46^; culls, 3O@4O?; Western and southern, 
old hens, 48@5oV ; old toms, 45@48tf. 

Spring, iced: Western, dry picked hens and toms, selected, 
5o@55^; poor to good, 44@48tf; Southern, hens and toms, selected, 
4^@53^ ; poor to good, 42@46# ; culls, 



123 



CHAPTER VII 
Insect Pests, Diseases and Predatory Animals 

The principal difficulties experienced by turkey raisers 
in maturing their stock aside from those occasioned by 
faulty management are insect pests, diseases and pred- 
atory animals. Of course suitable management will 
also prevent or greatly reduce the losses vhich would 
otherwise be occasioned from these sources. 

Lice 

There are four different species of lice which occur 
quite commonly on turkeys in the United States. Two of 
these seem to be native to the turkey itself and it seems 
probable that they occur on turkeys in the wild state. The 
first is the head louse which is so extremely injurious to 
young poults if allowed to get a start. The second is an- 
other form of turkey louse which occurs through the 
feathers in various parts of the body. It is especially 
likely to be prevalent on the neck and the breast. In addi- 
tion to this there are two other species of lice which are 
not native to the turkey but which occur where the tur- 
keys are or haVe been associated with chickens. The first 
of these is the common body louse of chickens, which may 
occur in considerable numbers on the turkeys. Usually, 

124 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

however, the body lice are not present in sufficient num- 
bers to cause any particularly injurious effect to the ma- 
ture fowls but they do cause considerable irritation and 
are injurious to the young turkeys. The shaft louse of 
chickens has also been found on turkeys but does not 
seem to be very prevalent. 

Where the young poults become badly infested with 
lice of any kind they usually grow weaker and weaker 
until they finally die. Due to lack of attention to keeping 
down lice this is one of the most important causes of 
high mortality in young turkeys. Head lice are the most 
serious and cause most of the trouble. If the young tur- 
keys are examined, head lice if present will be found on 
the top of the head above and in front of the eyes and 
under the throat where they Surrow into the skin. In 
addition to the head lice small white lice are frequently 
found in large numbers along the wing bar in the hollows 
or creases between the quills of the flight feathers. Some- 
times these places will be found to be literally alive with 
these lice. They are also found occasionally below the 
vent. 

The first principle to be observed in combating lice is 
to prevent their occurrence insofar as possible. When 
hen turkeys are set they should be dusted -with some good 
insect powder before being put on the nest and several 
times during the period of incubation. If this is thor- 
oughly done they will be freed of lice and no difficulty will 
be encountered with the poults on this account. If one 
neglects to dust the hens during the time they are sitting 

125 



TURKEY RAISING 

or if the job is not well done, the poults must be carefully 
examined soon after they are hatched and every few 
days thereafter. Examine most carefully the head and 
throat in the sections where the head lice are apt to occur 
and if any of these pests are found, the places where they 
occur must be carefully greased with lard or some similar 
grease. The lard will kill the lice but care must be taken 
to see that not too much is used as it might have a fatal 
effect on the poults themselves. Do not be content with 
greasing the poults once and expect to get rid of the head 
lice in that way but examine them several times at inter- 
vals of a few days so that if other lice are found they can 
be greased again. Greasing the wing bar of each poult 
is also frequently practiced where lice are found to occur 
at that point. Do not dust young poults freely with 
ordinary insect powder as it may prove harmful to them, 
especially in the way of causing sore eyes. Sodium fluor- 
ide applied according to the directions given below may 
be safely used. 

For any kind of lice which occur on turkeys, sodium 
fluoride will be found to be a most effective treatment. 
Where sodium fluoride is used on chickens it is recom- 
mended that it be used either in the form of a powder or 
else as a dip. For turkeys, however, dipping is not recom- 
mended. Sodium fluoride is exceedingly poisonous to all 
species of lice killing both the young and the adults and 
the young which emerge from the eggs which were pres- 
ent at the time of treatment. This chemical is not very 
well known and is not very widely kept in drug stores. 

126 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

It can, however, be obtained from wholesale druggists in 
the larger cities and other druggists can secure it on de- 
mand. It comes in two forms known as the commercial 
sodium fluoride and as the chemically pure sodium fluor- 
ide. The commercial is recommended for use inasmuch 
as it is in a more finely powdered form, is cheaper in price 
and will do the work very well. Commercial sodium 
fluoride should be procurable from druggists at a retail 
price between 30 and 60 cents a pound. This material 
keeps very well if placed in stoppered bottles or in closely 
covered cans. 

Where the turkeys are to be dusted small amounts of 
the sodium fluoride should be placed around on different 
parts of the fowls to be treated. In treating the adult 
turkeys one should have an assistant to hold the bird 
while the sodium fluoride is applied. It is well to place 
the bird on a table where the assistant can hold it by the 
legs and wings. Place a small pinch of the sodium fluor- 
ide among the feathers next to the skin in the following 
sections : one pinch on the head, one on the neck, two on 
the back, one on the breast, one below the vent, one on the 
tail, one on either thigh and one scattered on the upper 
side of each wing when spread and one scattered on the 
under side. The action of the chemical is comparatively 
slow. If the turkeys are examined two or three days 
after they have been treated it is possible that some lice 
will still be found but in a few days more all of them 
should have disappeared. In using the material no fear 
need be felt that it will produce any bad effects on the 

127 



TURKEY RAISING 

turkeys as it does not seem to cause a skin irritation or to 
injure the feathers. Sometimes after dusting, the fowls 
may sneeze and breathe hard but this soon wears off. 
Care should be taken to see that the sodium fluoride is not 
left around where the fowls could get it in their food or 
water, as it is poisonous. 

Care should also be taken by the person using the 
sodium fluoride to prevent it from getting and staying 
on the hands or body for any length of time as it may 
have an irritating or burning effect on the skin. It is for 
this reason that it is better to put the fowls to be treated 
on a table rather than to hold them on the lap. Sodium 
fluoride may be used on young turkeys as well as on the 
mature fowls without danger of bad results. In using it 
on the young fowls, however, it is best that it be used in 
the morning instead of just before they go to roost. 
Where the mother turkey has been properly dusted it is 
unnecessary to use more than a couple of pinches on each 
poult, one scattered on the neck and top of the head and 
throat and the other on the back and wings and below 
the vent. 

In addition to sodium fluoride any good commercial in- 
sect powder can be used with good results. A home-made 
powder of this sort which is effective is composed of 3 
parts gasoline, i part crude carbolic acid, into which plas- 
ter of paris is stirred until it blots up all the liquid and 
forms a dry powder. The powder should be kept in a 
tight can or bottle in order to preserve its strength. 

It is very easy for one who is not used to looking for 

128 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

lice on young turkeys to overlook these pests even after 
what they consider careful examination. For this reason 
if one's turkeys are droopy and not doing well and still 
the owner is convinced that there are no lice on them, 
further examination for this purpose should be made. 
The following experiment may be tried on little turkeys 
under those conditions. Submerge the little turkey in 
warm water which has been heated to about body tem- 
perature. Hold the little bird there with just its bill 
sticking out so that it can breathe, until the entire plumage 
is thoroughly wet, then wrap it in a white cloth which has 
been nicely warmed and hold the bird this way for several 
minutes. Then take the cloth off and notice whether there 
are any lice on it. Usually this experiment will result in 
finding a large number of lice on the cloth even when the 
turkey was supposed to be absolutely free from them. 

Stick-Tight Fleas or Chiggers. In addition to the lice 
which trouble turkeys there is also more or less difficulty 
in parts of the South from the stick-tight fleas or chiggers, 
which affect both chickens and turkeys. These fleas breed 
and abound in dry sandy soil, particularly in sheltered 
places out of the rain under buildings. They attach 
themselves to the fowl especially on the uncovered head 
parts where they suck the blood and cause intense irrita- 
tion. The effort should be made to keep the turkeys as 
free from stick-tight fleas as possible by not allowing 
them to go under buildings or other sheltered places 
where the soil is not rained upon but is dry and sandy. 
Not as much difficulty is likely to be experienced with 

129 



TURKEY RAISING 

stick-tight fleas on turkeys as on fowls since the turkeys 
are inclined to range more and to stay away from the farm 
buildings to a greater extent. Where stick tight fleas 
are troublesome, however, various ointments sold for 
this purpose are effective in killing them. These oint- 
ments must of course be rubbed on the parts to which 
the fleas are attached. Ordinary salt fat such as ham fat 
or salt pork fat rubbed on the fleas is also effective in 
ridding the turkeys of them. 

Diseases 

While turkeys do not seem to be subject to a great 
number of diseases still, on account of their nature and 
habits, serious difficulty may be experienced with disease 
unless the fowls are given the right kind of treatment 
and are allowed to range almost at will. They do not 
seem to be able to withstand the more restricted condi- 
tions of domestication as can the ordinary domestic fowl. 
When the range is ample, however, the diseases are not 
so common nor do they prove particularly troublesome 
provided the stock from which the birds are bred is 
strong and vigorous and the management and care given 
them are correct. It may be said that while diseases, par- 
ticularly blackhead, have been given credit for being the 
reason for turkey raising declining to such an extent as 
it has in many portions of the country, as a matter of 
fact it is not the principal reason for people discontinuing 
the business of turkey raising. The real reason lies 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

rather in the increased population of the countryside with 
the result that it becomes more difficult to keep the turkeys 
from ranging over the neighbors' farms. But while the 
diseases to which turkeys are subject will not prevent their 
being raised successfully, it is true that the losses from 
disease have been serious particularly in certain sections. 
Diseases are most common where turkeys have been 
raised in considerable numbers for the longest period. 

Getieral Disease Preventive Measures. In raising tur- 
keys as in raising any other kind of domestic poultry 
the most important consideration insofar as disease is 
concerned is to use every reasonable precaution to pre- 
vent its occurrence. In order to do this it is necessary 
that the turkey grower be a close observer and that he 
watch his birds carefully in order to discover the least 
sign of sickness. Often if diseases are discovered just 
as they begin they are easily cured and in any case pre- 
vention of their spread is a much simpler matter. When- 
ever new stock is purchased it is well to isolate it for a 
few days before letting it run with the home flock. This 
will give an opportunity to observe the birds and see 
whether or not they are in a good healthy condition. The 
turkey flock should be kept separate insofar as possible 
from the chickens. It is easy for turkeys to pick up 
diseases from the chickens and often diseases which are 
not so serious with the chickens may prove to be very 
troublesome with the turkeys. For this reason it is well 
to keep the fowls ranging away from the farm buildings 



TURKEY RAISING 

as much as possible, encouraging them during the summer 
and fall to come home only at night to roost. 

If any birds become seriously sick it will not as a rule 
pay to attempt treatment. Not only is treatment likely 
to be futile but keeping a very sick bird around is a men- 
ace in that it may lead to a spread of the disease through 
the flock. Even birds which are not seriously sick and 
which it is desired to treat should be separated from the 
main flock for this purpose. With seriously sick birds it 
is, therefore, best to kill them as soon as discovered. The 
bodies of such birds should be either burned or else 
buried deeply so that there will be no chance of the 
spread of the infection from this source. 

Where turkeys are housed during the severe winter 
weather in the North, it is necessary to keep the house 
in a very clean sanitary condition if the turkeys are to 
remain in the best of health. The droppings should be 
kept well cleaned out and it is also desirable to spray the 
house occasionally with some disinfectant. During the 
summer also it is desirable to clean up the droppings fre- 
quently from under the outdoor roosting places so that a 
large accumulation of this material will not take place. 
If there are any small areas of ground near the house used 
by the turkeys a great deal and if there is any reason to 
suspect that these places may be sources of infection to 
the flock it is well to lime this ground and then turn it 
over. 

Precaution should be taken in feeding young turkeys 
to see that the feed is thrown on clean ground or on 

132 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

clean board surfaces or other feeding places. Surplus 
feed should not be allowed to lie around where it will 
sour and spoil, as such material is very bad for turkeys. 
It is likewise desirable both in feeding young and old 
birds not to continue to feed on the same spot of ground 
indefinitely but to change occasionally to fresh places. 
Many turkey breeders feel that the feeding of sour milk 
as a drink both to the young turkeys and to the mature 
stock is a most valuable disease preventive. In case 
there are indications of any disease developing it is a 
good precautionary measure to place a disinfectant in the 
drinking water where this is provided for the birds in 
fountains or other receptacles. Potassium permanganate 
is a good disinfectant to use, putting enough in the water 
to give it a deep purple color. 

Blackhead. Undoubtedly, the prevalence of blackhead 
throughout the New England and Middle Atlantic states 
has been a great factor in reducing the number of turkeys 
raised there to an almost negligible quantity, although 
turkey raising in former years was quite an important 
industry. 

An example may be cited of the condition which oc- 
curred in St. Lawrence County, N. Y., a famous turkey 
producing section, during the late summer and early fall 
of 1914. At this time an epidemic of blackhead broke 
out here which was more serious than had ever before 
been experienced in that section. How serious this was 
is well shown by a comparison of the number of turkeys 
hatched and the number raised from the records of sev- 

133 



TURKEY RAISING 

eral turkey raisers in and about Heuvelton and Lisbon, 
N. Y. 



No. Turkeys Hatched No. Turkeys Raised 

200 25 

168 126 

155 60 

140 40 

130 106 

"5 25 

loo 30 

50 10 

50 40 

47 19 

It will be seen that from all of these flocks there was 
an average of 41.6% of the turkeys raised out of those 
hatched. A careful examination of the different flock 
records, however, shows that in spite of this serious epi- 
demic of blackhead, certain turkey growers were able to 
raise a very much larger proportion of turkeys hatched 
than the average. This goes to show that with proper 
management turkeys can be successfully raised even 
though disease may be a serious bar to those who do not 
understand the needs and nature of the fowls. In con- 
nection with the epidemic cited it might be stated that 
most of the turkeys died when from two to three months 
old and showed the characteristic blackhead lesions when 
opened up and examined. The farmers in the section did 

134 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

not know what disease caused the turkeys to die and 
called it various names such as cholera, white cholera, 
yellow cholera, scours, white diarrhea and yellow diarrhea. 

Of all the diseases to -which turkeys are subject, black- 
head is undoubtedly the most serious and has had the 
most detrimental effect on the turkey raising industry. It 
is an infectious disease which occurs most commonly and 
with most disastrous results through New England, the 
Middle Atlantic States and parts of the Middle West. It 
also occurs occasionally in parts of the South and on the 
Pacific Coast. Where turkeys are permitted by virtue of 
the climate and an abundance of range to have their 
liberty and to forage for most of their feed from the time 
they are hatched, this disease is far less frequent in oc- 
currence and disastrous in effect. In the main it affects 
young turkeys at any time between the ages of six weeks 
and four months. It occasionally affects mature turkeys 
as well but not often. Blackhead is an unfortunate name 
for the disease since it leads the turkey raiser to expect 
the head to turn black or dark. While this often happens 
it does not always do so and even where it does, the dark 
color of the head may be a symptom of some other ail- 
ment instead of blackhead. The symptoms in a general 
way are indicated by a steady weakening of the bird, a 
refusal to eat and a considerable thirst. Death ordinarily 
occurs anywhere from a few days up to two or three 
weeks after the disease is first noticed. Quite often, 
however, the progress of the disease is slower than this. 

Diarrhea accompanies the disease and the color of the 

135 



TURKEY RAISING 

droppings is often a bright yellow but may vary from 
white to brown. It is on opening up the body of a dead 
turkey that one is able to find the conditions which are 
characteristic of the disease. This is evidenced by one or 
both of the caeca or "blind guts" being enlarged and 
plugged full of a cheesy material. In addition, the liver is 
likely to be more or less enlarged and to show yellowish 
or yellowish green spots on its surface. 

There is a considerable difference of opinion as to 
what may be the cause of blackhead. In the opinion of 
some turkey raisers and others who have studied this 
matter it is simply the fact that the turkey is not easily 
adapted to domestication and that unless the greatest care 
is taken in selecting strong healthy breeding stock and 
giving the birds proper management and allowing them 
free range, they are likely to develop this diseased condi- 
tion. Another theory lays the cause of the disease to a 
parasitic protozoan called an amoeba which exists in the 
digestive tract of the bird and is discharged from the body 
with the excrement, in this way infecting other birds by 
being taken into the body with the food or drink. A 
third theory holds that the disease is caused by another 
kind of protozoan organism known as flagellates. These 
occur in the intestines of practically all turkeys but give 
rise to the trouble which is evidenced as blackhead only 
when the circumstances under which the turkeys live are 
unfavorable and lead to digestive conditions in the intes- 
tines such that the flagellates find conditions suitable for 
their multiplication. Many of them then penetrate the 

136 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

lining of the caeca and from there are carried to the liver, 
establishing a diseased condition in both places. Regard- 
less of what may be the specific cause of the disease there 
seems to be quite a close agreement of opinion that prac- 
tically all turkeys in the sections where the disease is 
prevalent are subject to the infection and that the ques- 
tion of whether or not the disease develops at all or 
whether it reaches serious proportions is largely a matter 
of management. 

There really is no treatment for blackhead which will 
give definite and satisfactory results. It will scarcely ever 
pay to attempt to treat sick birds since they are always a 
menace to the rest of the flock, as they are likely to cause 
further spread of the disease, and if they are seriously 
sick it is best to take no chances but to kill them and bury 
them deeply or burn them. Precautions can also be 
taken in keeping the droppings cleaned out from the 
roosting place and also in spreading lime on the soil in 
such places as the turkeys frequent to a great extent. It 
is also well to use some form of disinfectant in the drink- 
ing water such as potassium permanganate to the extent 
of about as much as can be placed on a dime to each gallon 
of water. 

Overfeeding seems to predispose the birds to the dis- 
ease and if the beginnings of any trouble are noted it will 
be well to cut down the feed. Many turkey raisers feel 
that the feeding of sour milk or buttermilk is advantage- 
ous in keeping the turkeys in good condition and in re- 
ducing the likelihood of blackhead. Another remedy 

137 



TURKEY RAISING 

which is often used consists of sulphur 5 grains, sulphate 
of iron i grain; or benzonaphthol i grain, salicylate of 
bismuth i grain ; or sulphate of iron I grain, salicylate of 
soda i grain. Where either of these remedies are used 
they are preceded by a dose of epsom salts from 10 to 35 
grains for a bird; or a dose of castor oil of from one-half 
to 3 teaspoonfuls, depending on the size of the bird. One- 
third teaspoonful of catechu to the gallon of drinking 
water is also said to have a beneficial effect. Another 
blackhead remedy advocated by a turkey grower consists 
of epsom salts in the drinking water in the proportion of 
one pint of saturated solution of the salts to five gallons 
of water. This is given for one day and is followed on 
the next day with four teaspoonfuls of muriatic acid to 
each gallon of drinking water. 

There has recently been announced, by Dr. H. M. 
Wegeforth, San Diego, Calif., an ipecac treatment for 
blackhead which is claimed to be both a preventive and 
curative. For sick birds, fluid extract of ipecac is ad- 
ministered in the amount of 10 drops three times a day 
for 3 days for each bird. For the next three days, the 
dose is 10 drops twice a day and for the next 3 days 
10 drops once a day. This treatment it is claimed cured 
birds with well developed cases of blackhead. 

As a preventive treatment, the ipecac was administered 
in powdered form mixed with a mash feed giving one 
teaspoonful twice a week for each 20 turkeys, making no 
difference in the dosage for size or age of the birds. This 

138 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

treatment it is claimed will keep the turkeys from devel- 
oping the disease. 

At the present time the ipecac treatment of turkeys 
for blackhead has not been sufficiently used and under 
sufficient conditions and sections to determine its real 
effectiveness. When blackhead is troublesome its use in 
an experimental way is advised. 

Chicken-pox or Sore Head. Ordinary chicken-pox or 
sore head, particularly in the South, not infrequently 
troubles turkeys just as it does fowls. It is evidenced by 
the same nodules or scabby eruptions about the head. 
Where this disease appears in the flock it is likely to 
spread rapidly from bird to bird. For this reason if a 
bird is found to be infected it should be removed from the 
flock and kept separate. The scabs which form may be 
soaked off by bathing them with warm water when the 
surfaces below should be washed with an antiseptic such 
as a 2% solution of carbolic acid or a solution of potas- 
sium permanganate, or the sore, after the scab is re- 
moved, may be touched with a tincture of iodine. A 
saturated solution of borax is also said to give good 
results in the treatment of this disease. 

Roup. Next to blackhead roup is probably more trou- 
blesome than any other disease of turkeys. It is particu- 
larly likely to occur when the birds are exposed to draft 
or to dampness. It begins like an ordinary cold but as it 
develops into roup there will be a swelling which occurs 
about the eyes, usually below, and because of which the 
disease is often termed "swell head." Roup seems to be 

139 



TURKEY RAISING 

highly contagious and for this reason affected birds should 
be isolated from the flock. If the disease is very bad the 
bird should be killed rather than run the risk of spread- 
ing the disease, but if the bird is lightly affected the nos- 
trils and mouth can be -washed out with some disinfectant 
such as a solution of potassium permanganate. Where a 
serious swelling is formed this should be lanced and the 
puss or material which it contains squeezed out, after 
which the sore should be washed out with an antiseptic. 

Limberneck. As in chickens so in turkeys limberneck 
sometimes occurs. It is characterized by loss of the use 
of the muscles of the neck, causing the head to hang 
down. It is commonly supposed that limberneck is a 
paralysis caused by intestinal poison. This may be due 
to eating decayed meat or unsound food of some kind or 
in some cases to digestive disturbances or intestinal 
worms. The usual treatment for this difficulty consists 
of giving the affected birds a tablespoon ful of castor oil. 
It is also well to add 10 to 15 drops of turpentine to the 
oil 

Crop-bound. In turkeys a crop-bound condition or 
impaction of the crop sometimes occurs. This is usually 
caused by the fowls eating feathers or some other indi- 
gestible material such as straw or stiff grasses which pre- 
vents the food from passing out of the crop and causes 
the crop to become full and hard. As a treatment give 
the bird a teaspoonful of sweet oil. After this has 
reached the crop, the contents can be worked about with 
the fingers until the oil is well mixed through and when 

140 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

loosened up in this way the material in the crop can usu- 
ally be forced out through the mouth by holding the bird 
with its head down. In case it is not possible to clear up 
the difficulty in this way, the crop can be opened by cut- 
ting through the skin and through the wall of the crop 
itself. In making the incision pull the outside skin to one 
side so that when it is allowed to slip back to its normal 
position after the cut is made, the incision in the crop 
will be covered by the outside skin. The material can 
then be taken out with the handle of a spoon or some 
similar instrument, being sure that the obstructing sub- 
stance is removed. The crop is then sewed up again, pre- 
caution being taken to sew up the walls of the crop and 
the skin separately. 

Worms. Turkeys are quite subject to intestinal or 
round worms. They occur both in young poults and in 
the adult fowls. These are slender, white, threadlike 
worms which may be present at times in considerable 
quantities. In order to prevent trouble from this cause 
it is well to worm the breeding stock in the spring before 
the ovaries begin to function and laying starts. It should 
be done at this time in order not to interfere with the lay- 
ing. Give each turkey a dose of sweet oil to which a few 
drops of chenopodium or American wormseed oil has 
been added. Nearly a half cup of this mixture can be 
given as a dose for a large bird, and in this quantity there 
should not be over three or four drops of wormseed oil. 
The young turkeys as well as the adults are apt to be 
greatly troubled by worms. In many cases it may prove 

141 



TURKEY RAISING 

to be a valuable precaution to treat them for worms from 
the start. For this purpose use a mixture composed of 
two tablespoon fuls of turpentine to a pint of sweet oil. 
This can be administered to the young poults with a 
medicine dropper giving them three or four drops to 
start with and gradually increasing the dose until a whole 
medicine dropper is used as the poults grow larger. 

Gapes. Gapes are not as troublesome to turkeys as 
they are to chickens. This is probably largely due to the 
fact that the turkeys range away from the buildings to a 
greater degree and are not so likely to pick up the infec- 
tion. Occasionally, however, gapes do cause trouble and 
may even be so serious as to make it difficult to raise 
turkeys. The disease, gapes, is so called from the char- 
acteristic gaping action of the affected chick or turkey. 
The disease is due to small forked worms which attach 
themselves to the lining of the windpipe, causing irrita- 
tion, and if present in sufficient numbers may even make 
breathing difficult and result in the weakening and even- 
tual death of the young bird. Gapes are most apparent 
and most seriously affect young fowls between the ages of 
10 days and four weeks. As a rule the larger, stronger, 
more vigorous youngsters are not seriously affected. The 
young worms or the eggs from which they come are 
picked up from the infested soil, and this infection will 
last from one year to another. The logical and self-evi- 
dent action to take in case gapes are troublesome is to 
place the turkey hens with their broods far enough away 
from the house so that they will be on land which has not 

143 



f 
DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

been previously ranged over to any extent by chickens. 
If this action is taken at the start there will be little if 
any trouble from gapes. 

In the case of birds which are affected it is often pos- 
sible to save them by treating the individuals. This is 
best done by looping a horsehair, dipping it in turpentine, 
and running it down the windpipe of the little turkey. Be 
sure that the horsehair is introduced into the windpipe 
and not down the throat itself. After the hair has been 
run down the windpipe turn it about several times and 
then pull it out. This action should be repeated several 
times and will result in loosening the hold of many of the 
worms which are attached to the walls of the windpipe. 
Some of them may be drawn out by the looped hair, but 
if not those which are loosened will be coughed up by the 
turkey. 

Bumblefoot. Occasionally turkeys are troubled with 
bumble foot, which is a swollen or corn-like condition on 
the bottom of the feet. It is due to an injury to the feet 
usually caused by the birds jumping down from their 
roosts or other elevations to a hard floor. It may become 
so bad as to cause considerable pain and lameness. The 
best treatment is to lance the swelling with a sharp knife, 
squeezing out the puss and the core which will be found. 
The wound should then be washed thoroughly with a dis- 
infectant and greased liberally with carbolated vaseline. 

Diarrhea or Bowel Trouble. Diarrhea is a common 
ailment of turkeys, both young and mature. It may be 
the symptom of some disease, or it may be due to over- 



TURKEY RAISING 

feeding or to faulty feeding. In young turkeys it is fre- 
quently due to their being chilled. When diarrhea ap- 
pears immediate effort should be made to ascertain its 
cause and of course to correct the conditions which are 
responsible. In the case of young turkeys, make sure that 
they are not being chilled and that they are not overfed 
or that they do not have access to sour or spoiled feed. 
In mature birds, likewise, make sure that they are not get- 
ting spoiled feed or feed which disagrees with them such 
as too much new corn. Boiled rice fed to young turkeys 
is claimed by many turkey growers to have a corrective 
effect in case of diarrhea. Castor oil may be given to 
older fowls in a dose of from one to three teaspoonfuls, 
depending on the size of the bird. 

Predatory Animals 

Marauding or predatory animals frequently cause seri- 
ous losses of turkey eggs from the nest where the hen 
is sitting, of young turkeys and even of mature stock. 
Skunks, oppossums, rats, crows and dogs are the greatest 
destroyers of turkey eggs. Mink, raccoons, coyotes, 
wolves, foxes, cats and certain large snakes are also egg 
eaters. The best way to prevent loss from this source 
is to locate all turkey nests and remove the eggs as 
they are laid, leaving only a nest egg or two to encourage 
the hen to keep on laying them. When the hen is set 
she should be given protection from animals by being 
placed under a coop so constructed as to protect her 

144 



DISEASES AND PREDATORY ANIMALS 

properly. A little strychnine dropped in an egg and 
left in a turkey nest over night will often serve to kill the 
animals which come to rob the nest. Where a turkey hen 
is disturbed by any of these pests she often changes her 
nest to some other locality. 

In addition to the losses from eggs being destroyed, 
young poults are sometimes caught and killed by hawks 
and by most of the animals mentioned above. Night 
losses can be prevented by driving the brood into a coop 
where they can be closed up for the night so that animals 
cannot get at them. This must be continued until the tur- 
keys are old enough to roost up out of danger. In certain 
sections of the country where coyotes, wolves or foxes 
are plentiful, mature stock may be lost from this source. 
About the only remedy is to attempt to free the range 
from the animals which cause the loss and to provide 
roosts which are high enough to place the birds out of the 
reach of these four-footed thieves. 



145 



INDEX 

PAGE 

Age of Breeders 44 

Distinguishing 46 

Alternating Males 50 

American Standard of Perfection 17 

Artificial Brooding 85 

Incubation 75 

Barrels for Packing 113 

Blackhead 133 

Black Turkeys 17 

Breeding of 30 

Blue or Lavender 31 

Bourbon Red 17 

Breeding of . 32 

Boxes for packing turkeys 114 

Breeders, Age of 44 

Feeding of 54 

Prices of 12 

Purchasing 48 

Selecting 20, 42, 106 

Shipping 36 

Size of 18 

Breeding and Laying Season 58 

Stock, Management of Turkey 41 

Yards 50 

Bronze Turkey 17 

Breeding of 25 

Brood Coop for Hen and Poults 79 

Broodiness, Breaking up 61 

Brooding by Artificial Means 85 

Young Stock 78 

Location of 80, 81 

Bumblefoot 143 

Caponizing 107 

Catching and Handling 35 

Chickenpox or Sorehead 139 

Chiggers 129 

147 



INDEX 

>~. . PAGE 

Clipping wings ..................... e 2 

Cocks, Adult ................................... V.V.* .' 17 

Yearling ............................................ ...... 17 

Confinement, keeping turkeys in .................. .*. .'.*. . ' ' * '. ' n 

Fattening in ...................................... ........ 106 

Coop for Shipping ............................ * ...... ..... .37, 108 

Cost of Raising ................................... ........ ' 10 

Crop Bound ....................................... ......... 140 

Crossing ............................................ ...... .23, 24 

Curing Feathers ............................................ n6 

Defects in Breeding See Variety Concerned 

Description See Variety Concerned 

Diarrhea ....................................... 84, 135, 143 

Diseases of Turkeys ......................................... 130 

Distinguishing Sex ................................... '.'.'.'.'.'. 96 

Domestic Turkey ........................ ................... jg 

Dressing Turkeys ................................... * ____ '.'no, 117 

Dry Picking ................................................ no 

Dusting for Lice ................................. .... ....... 74 

Eastern Wild Turkey .................................. 2 

Egg, Size of ................................................ 77 

Eggs, number in litter ...................................... 8 

Car 



re of, for hatching ...... ................................. 65 

Incubation of ............................................. 67 

Number to set ............................................ 69 

Eggs for hatching Packing and Shipping .................... 38 

Enemies of Turkeys ........................ . . . . ............ 144 

Extent of Industry .......................................... 5 

Fattening Turkeys .............. ............................ 104 

In Confinement ........................................... 106 

Feathers, Turkey ........................................... 115 

Prices of ................................................. 1 16 

Feathering of Poults ..... . . ....................... , .......... 94 

Feed for in Transit ......................................... 37 

Feeding for Market ......................................... 105 

the Breeders ....................................... 54 

" Sitting Hens ....................................... 73 

" Poults .............................................. 87 

Fences ..................................................... 51 

Fleas Sticktight ...................................... L . ., ____ 129 

Florida Wild Turkey ........................................ 2 

Gapes ............................ .................. t.;.. ...... 142 

Grading up the Flock ....................................... 42 

148 



INDEX 

PAGE 

Hatching Eggs, Care of 65 

" Packing and Shipping 38 

Methods of 68 

with Chicken Hens 74 

Head Lice 124, 126 

Honduras or Ocellated Turkey 3 

Houses 56, 57 

Inbreeding 43 

Incubation 67 

Artificial 75 

Period of 67 

Injury Preventing to Hens 47 

Insect Destroyers, Turkeys, as 10 

Judging Turkeys ., 39 

Killing and Dressing no, 117 

Laying Season 58 

Lice 74, 124 

On Poults 92 

Limberneck 140 

Line Breeding 44 

Location of Brood Coop 80, 81 

Management of Breeders 41 

Management of Growing Turkeys 98 

Markets and Market Demands 103 

Market Prices for Turkeys 122 

Market Turkeys, Size of 102 

Marketing Turkeys 102 

Time of 102 

Marking and Pedigreeing Turkeys 93 

Mating General Considerations 20 

Merriam's or Mexican Turkey 2 

Mexican or Merriam's Turkey 2 

Mongrels vs. Purebred 42 

Narragansett Turkey 17 

Breeding of 28 

Natural Incubation 72 

Nest for Sitting Hen 70 

Nests Locating Stolen 61 

Constructing >... 64 

Number of Hens to Male 49 

149 



INDEX 

PAGE 

Ocellated or Honduras Turkey ...., 3 

Opportunities for Turkey Raising 7 

Origin of Turkeys I 

Of Name Turkey 4 

Packing Dressed Turkeys 113 

Paddles or Shingles 52 

Pedigreeing Turkeys 93 

Poults 17 

Protection for 79 

Preparing Turkeys for Show 33 

Prices 13-15 

Of Breeders 16 

Production, Decrease in 6 

Profit in Turkeys 9 

Purchasing Breeders 41, 48 

Purebred vs. Mongrels 42 

Range , 87 

Red Shooting the 96 

Requirements for Turkey Raising 8 

Rio Grand Wild Turkey ,..., 2 

Roosts 98 

Roup ., 139 

Selecting Breeders ....,.., 20, 41, 48 

Time of 48 

Selling Turkeys Alive 108 

Setting the Hen 72 

Sex, Distinguishing , 96 

Sitting Hen, Nest for 70 

Management of 72 

Sheds 56, 57 

Shelter for Breeders 56 

Shipping Market Turkeys Alive 119 

Shipping Show Birds and Breeding Stock 36 

Coop T 37 

Shooting the Red 96 

Show Preparing Turkeys for 33 

Shipping to 36 

Size 18 

of Breeders 18, 45 

of Eggs 77 

of Market Turkeys 102 

Slate Turkey 17 

Breeding of 31 

Sodium Fluoride for Lice 126 

150 



INDEX 

PAGE 

Sorehead r . T . ... . 139 

Sports Example of 30 

Standard Varieties of 17 

Standard Weights of 18 

Stick Tight Fleas or Chiggers 129 

Stolen Nests Locating 61 

Testing Eggs During Incubation 67 

Throwing the Red 96 

Toe Punching 93 

Transportation Cars 120 

Varieties of Wild Turkeys : ., 2 

Of Domestic 17 

Popularity of 19 

Weight of Market Turkeys 102 

Weight of Turkey Eggs 77 

Weights Standard 18 

Wild Turkey 18 

White Holland 17 

As Egg Producers 20 

Breeding of 29 

Wild Turkey ,...,. ... 2 

Breeding 23 

Wings Clipping of 52 

Woman Turkey Raising as a Business for Farm 9 

Worms 14! 

Yards Breeding 50 





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