Turkey Rearing and Feeding Program
Turkey poults have been described as suicides looking for somewhere to happen, especially day-old poults. More than any other species of poultry, getting them through the first days of their lives is a challenge to producers. Today's turkeys have a tremendous potential for growth; the aim of the grower should be to provide an environment which, through thorough cleaning and preparation of the house, correct preheating, proper lighting and provision of adequate feeders and drinkers, will encourage efficient consumption of feed and allow the poults to express their growth potential.
Prior to placement, the brooder house and all equipment to be used should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
A. Brooder Rings: After the house has been cleaned and dried, and 3-5 inches of new litter is spread, brooder rings should be set up. These serve several functions:
Prior to poult placement, the temperature directly under the brooder should be 95 - 100 degrees Fahrenheit (35 - 38 degrees Celsius), while the temperature at the perimeter of the ring should be 90 - 95 degrees Fahrenheit (24 - 30 degrees Celsius).
Once the poults arrive, use their behaviour to adjust the brooder temperature and height. See Figure 1.
Between 3 and 5 Days after placement, gradually extend the brooder guards/rings. Between 6 and 14 days, reduce brooder temperature approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) per week and gradually raise the height of the brooder. If the temperature is correct, the poults will locate feed and water sooner, which will help prevent dehydration and mortality.
B. Feed: Feeder space recommendation is 1.5 linear inches (4 cm) per poult. Feed troughs or pans should be no more than 1.5 inches (4 cm) above the litter. For the first 2 to 3 days, feed provided in egg flats or meat trays improve feed consumption. Replace these gradually with feed troughs. Feed troughs and trays should be kept as clean and as full as possible, and should be distributed so that poults can eat at whatever temperature is comfortable to them.
C. Water: Provide 0.5 linear (1.25 cm) per bird. Keep in mind the smallest bird when placing waterers and feeders. Birds will consume about 2 to 2.5 times as much water as feed.
D. Water Quality Guidelines: Poults, above all other species, are susceptible to high sodium levels in the water. Maximum recommended should be 300 - 350 ppm; at higher levels than this, the sodium level in the diet needs to be adjusted.
E. Waterers and Feeders: Waterers and feeders should be cleaned daily for the first week to keep them as fresh as possible. Water drinkers may require daily cleaning (emptying and scrubbing) for a longer period, depending on water quality.
F. Lighting: On days 1 and 2, poults should receive 24 hours of light with intensity of 60 - 70 lux (6 - 7 foot candles) at poult eye-level. This high intensity during the first two days will keep poults active, eating and drinking.
A. Air Temperature: The goal is to drop temperatures about 2 degrees Celsius per week, getting to 22 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) at the end of the fifth week.
B. Ventilation: A successful ventilation program should:
B. Grit: The feeding of insoluble grit aids the bird's digestion. The following chart is a guideline for providing grit to turkeys.