Turkey occupies an important position next to chicken, duck. Guinea fowl and quail in contributing the most evolving sector, which is playing a significant role in augmenting the economic and nutritional status of varied population. They form almost two percent of the total poultry population. They are reared for meat only and its meat is the leanest among other domestic avian species. Turkeys are mostly concentrated in and around cosmopolitan cities of India in small numbers. Indigenous and non-descriptive turkeys are found in good numbers in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh and some other parts of India.
Turkey and world:
Turkey farming is very popular in western countries and the major turkey producing countries are United States of America, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The Annual per capita consumption of turkey meat in the above said countries ranges from 4-8 kg per year. Turkey population touched 259 millions in 1992(Singh, 1996). The estimated world turkey meat production in 2004 is 4.94 million tones.
History and thanksgiving holiday:
Turkey (Meleagris Gallopavo) is a large gallinaceous bird of the family Meleagridae that is native of North America, domesticated in Europe and are now important source of food in many parts of the world. Columbus took specimens to Spain in 1948. Reports on turkey were there in Germany in 1530 and in England by 1541.
The first president of the United States of America, George Washington, issued a general proclamation in1789 to celebrate “thanksgiving” on November 26. In 1893 President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November a national thanksgiving holiday. Later it was changed to the fourth Thursday of November. However, turkey is synonymous with Christmas
Turkey and India:
Turkey farming is in infancy in India. However, serious efforts are being made at Central Poultry Development Organisation (Southern Region), Hessarghatta, Bangalore to promote turkey farming. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the leading states in turkey production. Turkey farming is getting popular fast in southern regions. There are three varieties of turkey commonly available in India. They are Board breasted bronze, Broad breasted white and Beltsville small white. White turkeys seem to be more suitable for Indian conditions.
Breeds of turkeys in India:
Turkeys are not classified into breeds, however seven standard varieties are available, Bronze, White Holland, Bourbon red, Narragansett, Black, Slate, Beltsville small white.
Board breasted bronze:
The basic plumage color is black and not bronze. The females have black breast feathers with white tips, which help in sex determination as early as 12 weeks of age.
Board breasted white:
This is a cross between Board breasted bronze and White Holland with white feathers. This variety was developed at the Cornell University. White plumage turkeys seems to be suitable Indian-Agro climatic conditions as they have better heat tolerance and also good and clean in appearance after dressing.
Beltsville small white:
This variety was developed at Agricultural University Research Station, Beltsville, USA. It closely resembles the Board breasted white in color and shape but smaller in size. Egg production, fertility and hatchability tend to be higher and broodiness tends to be lower than heavy varieties.
Breeds of turkeys in the World:
It has been dominated by three breeding companies offering 4 parental heavy type breeds (Big six, Hybrid large white, Nicholar 900 & 700) and 5 medium heavy types (BUT-8, BUT-9, Big-9, hybrid super medium & Nicolas 300). In addition to Poland the regional breeders have introduced two medium varieties, Benkova and Jancowski in 1995. In Europe, medium type turkeys available are, Gaubin(France), and Kvama(Poland).
|Adult male turkey|
Adult female turkey
|Young one of turkey|
Snood or Dew bill
|l The fleshy protuberance near the base of the beck|
|Caruncles||The fleshy protuberance on the head and neck usually pink or red in color which appear from about 5th week of age|
|Dewlap||A large flap skin seen immediately below the chim|
|Bread||A tuft of hair attached to the skin of the upper chest region|
|Strut||Mating behavior of male turkey|
|Shooting the red (Similar to an ulcer)||The development of caruncles and this is supposed to indicate the most difficult time in the life of young turkey|
Poultry should be debeaked to control feather picking and cannibalism. Debeaking can be done at day old or 3-5 weeks of age. Remove the beak at about one half the distance from nostril to the tip of the beak.
Removal of the snood or dewbill is to prevent the head injuries from picking and fighting. At the day old the snood can be removed by shumbnail or finger pressure. At 3 weeks of age it can be cut off close to the head with sharp scissors.
Detoeing or toe clipping:
Clipping is done at day old by removing the tip of the toe just to the inside of the outer most toe pad including the entire toenail.
The turkey will start lay from the 30th week of age and its production period is 24 weeks from the point of lay. Under proper feeding and artificial lightening management turkey hens lay as much as 60-100 eggs annually. Nearly 70 percent of the eggs will be laid in the afternoon. The turkey eggs are tinted and weigh about 85 gms. Egg is noticeably pointed at one end with strong shell. The protein, lipid carbohydrate and mineral content of turkey egg are 13.1%, 11.8%,1.7% and 0.8% respectively. The cholesterol is 15.67-23.97 mg/gm of yolk.
Turkey meat has nutritional and sensorial properties which make it almost ideal raw material for rational and curative nutrition. People prefer turkey meat because of its leanest nature. The protein, fat, energy value of turkey meat are 24%,6.6%, 162 Calories per 100 gm of meat. Mineral like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc and sodium are present. It is also rich in essential amino acids and vitamins like niacin, vitamin B6 and B12. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids and low in cholesterol.
Management Practices in turkey:
The incubation period is 28 days in turkey. There are two methods of incubation.
Natural incubation with broody hens:
Naturally turkeys are good brooders and the broody hen can hatch 10-15 numbers of eggs. Only clean eggs with good eggshell and shape should be placed for brooding to get 60-80% hatchability and healthy poults.
In artificial incubation, eggs are hatched with the help of incubators. The temperature and relative humidity in setter and hatcher are as follows:
|Temperature (Degree F)||
Relative humidity (%)
Egg should be turned at hourly intervals daily. Eggs should be collected frequently to prevent soiling and breakage and also to get better hatch ability.
In turkey 0-4 weeks period is called as brooding period. However, in winter brooding period is extended upto 5-6 weeks. As a thumb rule the turkey poults need double hover space as compared to chicken. Brooding day old poults can be done using infra red bulbs or gas brooder and traditional brooding systems.
Points to be noted during brooding:
- The floor space requirement for 0-4 weeks is 1.5 sq.ft. per bird.
- The brooder house should be made ready atleast two days before the arrival of poults.
- The litter material should be spread in a circular manner with a diameter of 2 mtrs.
- Poult guard of atleast 1 feet height must be provided to prevent the poults from wandering away from source of heat.
- Starting temperature is 950 F followed by weekly reduction of 50 F per week upto 4 weeks of age
- Shallow waterers should be used.
Turkeys are not the best starters in their life and will really need some tender loving care to get them safely through the first four weeks of life. The average mortality rate is 6-10% during this period. Young poults by nature are reluctant to eat and drink in the first few days of life, primarily because of bad eyesight and nervousness. Hence, they have to be force fed.
Starve out problem is one of the major factors for early mortality in poults. So special care has to be taken for supplying feed and water. In force feeding, milk should be fed at the rate of 100ml per liter of water and one boiled egg have to be given at the rate of one per 10 poults up to fifteen days and that will compensate the protein and energy requirements of the poultry.
Poults can be attracted to the feed by gentle tapping of the container with the fingers. Colored marbles or pebbles placed in feeders and waterers will also attract poults towards them. Since turkeys are fond of greens, some chopped green leaves should also be added to the feed to improve the feed intake. Also colored egg fillers can be used for the first 2 days as feeders.
The common litter materials used for brooding are wood shavings saw dust, paddy husk, chopped saw etc. The thickness of the litter material should be 2 inch at the beginning and may be increased to 3-4 inch in course of time by gradual addition. The litter should be raked at frequent intervals to prevent caking.
Turkeys can be reared under free range or intensive system
Free range system of rearing: Advantages:
- It reduces the feed cost by fifty percent.
- Low investment.
- Cost benefit ratio is high.
In the free range system, in one acre of fenced land we can rear 200-250 adult turkeys. Shelter should be provided during night at the rate of 3-4 sq.ft. per bird. They should be protected from predators during scavenging. Planting of trees is desirable for providing shade and cooler environment. The range should be rotated which will help to reduce incidence of parasite infestation.
Free range feeding:
Since turkeys are very good scavengers, it can consume earthworms, small insects, snails, kitchen waste and termites, which are rich in protein and that will reduce the feed cost by fifty percent. Apart from this leguminous fodder like Lucerne, Desmanthus, Stylo etc., can be fed. To avoid leg weakness and lameness in free ranging birds, calcium should be supplemented at the rate of 250gm per week per bird in the form of oyster shell. Ten percent of feed can be substituted with vegetable waste to reduce the cost of feed.
Turkeys in the free range system are highly susceptible for internal (round worms) and external parasites (fowl mite). Hence once a month deworming and dipping is essential to improve the growth of the birds.
Intensive system of rearing:
mproved production efficiency.
Better management and disease control. Housing:
Housing protects turkeys form sun, rain, wind, predators and provides comfort.
In hotter parts of the country the long axis of the house should run from East to West.
The distance between two houses should be at least 20 meters and the young stock house should be at least 50 to 100 meters away from the adult house.
The width of the open house should not exceed 9 meters.
The height of the house may vary from 2.6 to 3.3 meters from the floor to roof.
An overhang of one meter should be provided to avoid the rainwater splash.
The floor of the houses should be cheap, durable and safe preferably concrete with moisture proof.
When turkeys are reared under deep litter system, the general managemental conditions are similar to that of chicken but care should be taken to provide adequate floor, waterer and feeder space to accommodate the large bird.
Catching and handling of turkeys:
Turkeys of all age group can be easily driven from one place to another with the help of a stick. For catching turkeys a darkened room is best, wherein they can be picked up with both legs without any injury. However, mature turkeys should not be kept hanging for more than 3-4 minutes.