From hatching to harvest it takes a turkey nine months to be large enough to be considered dinner. If you are raising a turkey or turkeys for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, be aware of the length of time involved. If you are using commercial-grade feed for your turkeys and they are limited to that as their food source, you may end up with a rather thin turkey when it comes time. There are a few methods that can be used to ensure a fattened, juicy meal, but these methods take time and preparation months in advance.
- Skill level:
Restrict the turkey's movements, but not by much. There is a paradox in the method to fattening turkeys. If they are allowed to free-range, they will eat all day long -- more than if they were confined. However, the exercise they get from running around all day looking for food will burn any calories from their food intake. Confining them to smaller quarters will cut off their calorie-burning activity, but will also decrease their appetites substantially. They need to have enough room to walk and move around, but don't need big open areas. Keep in mind that turkeys do not like confinement; it can cause depression and lethargy, which will ruin your chances of a fattened bird.
Change the feed. Most adult turkeys are eating a 16 per cent protein commercial-grade feed. This is the feed used for their later diets. If you begin feeding them a finisher/grower feed at 18 per cent protein, which is what is fed to adolescent turkeys, the birds should pack on the pounds. To hasten this process, find some unmedicated poult (baby turkey) feed at 20 per cent protein or higher. Most poult feeds are medicated to help build their immune system, but if the turkeys made it to adulthood, they won't need this medication.
Increase the turkey's intake of corn. Poultry corn, or "scratch," helps add to the protein mix and will help a turkey gain weight. Some turkeys don't eat massive amounts of corn, so just make sure it is available and they will pick through it occasionally for a bite. If corn is too expensive, roasted soybeans are a good option. Turkeys cannot eat raw soybeans without getting ill; make sure they are roasted or boiled.
Position the food in the same place each day. If your turkeys love to roam, but keep finding food close to their nesting area, they won't roam far. Clean food and water should be placed close to each other.
Open a can of beer, not light beer, each day and let the turkeys drink. It's not a joke; many turkey owners use beer to fatten their flocks. Animals drink and enjoy beer. The high calorie count of the beer gives them what so many humans want to get rid of, a beer belly. One can of beer per bird daily should be enough. The beer won't decrease their appetites, but will cut down on their desire to wander far.
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