Want to increase earnings from your poultry farming business? Alright! Adding turkeys to your brood of poultry is the best way to go.
Turkey farming in Kenya is on an increase gaining farmers an added economic value more than ever. The intentions for rearing these birds can range from;
Meat is sold to Supermarkets and hotels. Eggs for brooding purposes. Eggshells as decorative art pieces.
In most homes where turkeys are reared, it is for their aesthetic value and as pets.
Here is how to brood and manage turkeys for economic intentions
There are several varieties of turkeys, the commonly found in Kenya are the White Holland and Bronze.
How to brood Poults (turkey chicks)
One-day-old chicks are the most preferred when starting to rear turkeys. Even though you can buy eggs and incubate them on your hatching takes place in 28 days. Living Poults make it easier to start your rearing journey.
Turkeys are affected by cold weather, make sure the housing is well ventilated and warm enough to avoid freezing. During the first days of brooding provide more warmth using the Infra-red lights, or using traditional methods.
Have the structure in a round form to avoid suffocation when the birds cluster in one corner for warmth.
Maintain floor temperatures of 32 – 38 Celsius during the first week. Reduce temperatures by 2 degrees into the second week and thereafter up to 4 weeks
Padding is important for both safety reasons and hygiene purposes. Protect the Poults from getting injured by padding the floors with sawdust or wood shaving at 3 – 4 inches.
Padding provides a good absorption remedy for chick droppings. Regularly make sure to rake the padding to avoid caking.
Poults need larger spacing compared to normal chicks, ensure you provide enough space of 1 – 5 Ft. per chick to be increased by 20cm x 20 cm as the chick grows bigger.
How to feed the Poults
Poults require an adequate supply of feed and plenty of clean water.
From 0 – 4 weeks old provide starter mash. At Week 10 introduce the birds to growers mash and increase the amount of water.
After 6 weeks you can let the birds out to scavenge for themselves. This allows for diet supplementation by feeding on earthworms and green vegetables.
Introduce grower’s mash at this point of rearing in addition to minerals and vitamins to increase growth.
Turkeys are tall birds and depend on their feet for support and balance. Adding calcium minerals to their feed helps to strengthen their bones.
Compared to other poultry birds turkey’s diet is 70% vegetables. To have your birds achieve the best weight provide them with a great number of vegetables and they will not disappoint.
This controls cannibalism among birds and feather picking upon themselves. Debeak on day 1 or 3 -5 weeks old Poults.
Removal of the dew bill prevents the birds from head injuries. Do this at 3 weeks by cutting off the dew close to the head with a sharp object.
Turkeys like all birds will climb on each other whether in fear or during normal bonding. If left with unattended toenails they can cause harm to themselves and other birds. Make sure to cut the tip of the toe (Outermost toe and entire toenail).
Disease Control and Management
These birds are susceptible to infections and disease more than normal chickens. Common diseases that affect turkeys include and are not limited to New Castle, Fowl pox, to blackheads.
It is important to track your birds and put in place safety measures that reduce the chances of infection.
Vaccinate birds from day 1 to prevent diseases such as New Castle, fowl pox, and Hemorrhagic enteritis
Maintain high hygiene standards on your farm to prevent the spreading of infections. Fowl Cholera, chronic respiratory diseases, Mycotoxicosis are diseases spread by poor sanitation.
How to Slaughter Turkeys
Discontinue feeding 18 hours before slaughtering and instead provide adequate clean water.
The current price per kilogram of turkey meat is Ksh: 500. This is on the higher side compared to a normal chicken.
The normal body weight for a full-grown turkey is 8 – 10 kgs at week 28. This puts turkeys at a higher economic advantage making it a lucrative poultry farming business.
As a farmer, you have the market advantage of selling your birds either live or as meat. The demand for white poultry meat continues to increase. Turkey farming becomes a good economic option for poultry farmers in Kenya.
Start small and learn as you go on the best turkey farming practices. There is a wide demand for Turkey meat so don’t be afraid to try new markets for your produce.