So your turkeys are dying. Why is this happening, and what can be done to prevent it?
Baby turkeys often die because they are not getting enough protein, they are too hot or cold (or there is a fluctuation in temperature), there is a lack of shade, they aren’t getting enough water, or because predators get to them.
There are a variety of diseases that can kill turkeys, too, something that unfortunately leads to their high mortality rate.
In this article, we will explore some of the possible reasons why turkeys are dying and what you can do to keep your turkeys healthy. I’ll also give you a list of questions you might ask as you are trying to figure out why your turkeys keep dying.
Let’s get started!
What is the Survival Rate of Baby Turkeys?
Baby turkeys, also known as poults, have a high mortality rate, with up to 50% of chicks dying before reaching adulthood.
There are many causes of death for young turkeys, including cold weather, predators, and disease. In addition, baby turkeys are very delicate and can easily succumb to injury.
However, the survival rate for domestic turkeys has increased in recent years due to advances in husbandry practices.
By providing poults with a clean and safe environment, feeding them a nutritious diet, and protecting them from predators and disease, farmers have been able to significantly improve the chances of survival for young turkeys.
If you’re a turkey farmer, then you know that baby turkeys can be quite delicate. But what if they’re dying for no apparent reason? Find out the twelve most common reasons why baby turkeys die, so you can prevent it from happening to your flock.
Most baby animals need a warm environment when they’re first born, and this includes baby turkeys. They need a place that’s about 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week of their lives, and then the temperature can be lowered by five degrees each week until they’re fully grown.
However, it’s important to not lower the temperature too quickly, as this can stress the turkey out and make them more susceptible to diseases.
When they’re fully grown, turkeys can handle colder temperatures, but if the temperature gets too hot – above 85 degrees Fahrenheit – they can start to experience heat stress.
In the hot summer months, it’s important to make sure that your turkey doesn’t get overheated. Turkeys are susceptible to heat stroke, and their large body size makes them especially vulnerable.
When temperatures rise, turkeys typically seek out cooler areas and spend more time in the shade. However, if the heat becomes too extreme, they may pant and droop their wings in an attempt to cool down. If you notice that your turkey is showing these signs of distress, it’s important to take action immediately.
First, move the bird to a cooler location and provide it with plenty of water. If necessary, you can also use a fan or mist the bird with cool water. By taking these steps, you can help prevent your turkey from succumbing to overheating.
This can cause them to stop eating and drinking, and they may even die. So, when it comes to turkeys, it’s important to pay attention to the temperature to ensure that they stay healthy and happy.
Not only that, but you need to make sure there aren’t too many fluctuations in brooder temperature, either. A sudden swing from warm to cold or vice versa can be just as dangerous as temperatures that are consistently high or low.
When it comes time to introduce your turkeys to the outdoors, it’s important to take things slowly at first.
At what age can baby turkeys go outside on pasture from the brooder? The answer depends on a few factors, including the weather and the size of the turkey. In general, baby turkeys can be moved outside when they are between one to two months of age.
However, if the weather is still cold or there is a chance of frost, it is best to wait until the turkey is a bit older. You want to wait until your turkeys are fully feathered before you put them outside.
Additionally, if the turkey is small, it may be vulnerable to predators. As a result, it is important to take these factors into account when deciding when to move a baby turkey from the brooder to the outdoors.
Start by letting them out for short periods of time, gradually increasing the length of time as they become more acclimated to their new surroundings. Once they’re comfortable venturing outside, they’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits that fresh air and exercise have to offer.
While turkeys are generally very hardy birds, there are a few things that can be poisonous to them. For example, onions and garlic are both harmful to turkeys, and can cause digestive problems and problems with the kidneys if they eat too much of either one.
Avocados are also dangerous for turkeys, as the pits contain a substance that can cause respiratory problems. In addition, chocolate is poisonous to turkeys, and can lead to heart failure if they eat too much of it.
As a result, it’s important to be careful about what you feed your turkey, and to avoid giving them any foods that might be harmful to their health.
Turkeys are susceptible to a variety of diseases and health problems, just like any other animal. Some of the more common illnesses that turkeys can get include respiratory infections, parasites, and avian influenza.
Respiratory infections are often spread through contact with other birds or contaminated areas, and they can cause symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
Parasites can also be contracted from other birds or contaminated areas, and they can lead to weight loss, lethargy, and diarrhea.
Turkey farmers need to be aware of the various diseases that can affect their flock. Some of the most common diseases include coccidiosis, salmonellosis, fowl pox, and bursal disease. Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoan parasite and can lead to intestinal bleeding and dehydration.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Bursal disease is a viral infection that attacks the lymphoid tissue, causing paralysis and death.
Avian influenza is a virus that can be deadly to turkeys, and it is often spread through contact with infected waterfowl.
Symptoms of avian influenza include increased thirst, runny nose, and death. If you suspect your turkey may be sick, it is important to take it to the vet immediately for treatment. With prompt medical care, many of these illnesses can be successfully treated.
These diseases can spread quickly through a flock, so it is important to maintain good biosecurity practices. This includes keeping the turkey coop clean and disinfected, segregating new birds from the rest of the flock, and providing clean water and food.
In addition, many of the most common turkey diseases have a vaccination available that can be given to young poults.
By taking these precautions, farmers can help to protect their turkeys from these common diseases.
Coccidia are a type of intestinal parasite that can infect turkeys, causing illness and even death. The most common symptom of coccidiosis is diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and weight loss.
Coccidia are spread through contaminated feces, so it’s important to keep your turkey coop clean and free of manure. If you suspect your turkey has coccidia, take them to the vet for treatment.
There are several medications that can be used to treat coccidiosis, and the sooner you start treatment, the better the chances of a full recovery.
A lack of protein can have devastating effects on baby turkeys. Without this essential nutrient, they will quickly become malnourished and their growth will be stunted. Additionally, their immune systems will be weakened, making them more susceptible to disease.
In severe cases, a lack of protein can even lead to death.
This is why it is so important for turkeys to have access to a high-quality diet that contains plenty of protein. Turkey poults need a lot more protein than chicks, so pay attention to your feed labels! Use a turkey starter in your feeder, not a chick starter, for your best odds at prevention.
If you are raising turkeys, make sure to provide them with the nutrients they need in order to stay healthy and thrive.
Shade is important for baby turkeys for two primary reasons. First, shade helps to protect them from the sun’s harsh rays. Too much sun can lead to heat stress, which can be fatal for young turkeys.
Second, shade provides a cool and comfortable environment for baby turkeys to rest in.
Without access to shade, baby turkeys will become overheated and may even die from exhaustion. For these reasons, it is essential that farmers provide their baby turkeys with plenty of shading options. Otherwise, they risk losing a significant portion of their flock to heat and sun exposure.
Baby turkeys, or poults, are extremely vulnerable to predators such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. In fact, many poults do not survive their first week of life. There are several things that you can do to help reduce the risk of predation.
First, make sure to provide plenty of cover for the poults. Tall grasses, shrubs, and trees will all help to conceal the poults from predators. Second, do not leave the poults alone for long periods of time.
Predators are more likely to attack when there are no adults around to defend the young turkeys.
Finally, keep an eye out for signs of predation such as footprints or feathers near the nest. If you see signs that predators are in the area, take steps to remove them from your property. By taking these precautions, you can help increase the chances that your baby turkeys will survive to adulthood.
For baby turkeys, water is essential for survival. Without enough water, they will quickly become dehydrated and die.
Dehydration can occur for a number of reasons, including a lack of access to clean water, an insufficient amount of water, or extreme heat.baby turkeys are particularly susceptible to dehydration because they have not yet developed the ability to regulate their body temperature.
As a result, they can quickly overheat and become dehydrated. In addition, baby turkeys have a high metabolism and require more water than adults. For these reasons, it is important to make sure that baby turkeys always have access to clean, fresh water. If you suspect that your turkey is dehydrated, you should immediately contact a veterinarian.
Dehydration can be fatal if it is not treated promptly.
Overcrowding is a major problem for baby turkeys. When they are born, they are placed in a large pen with hundreds of other turkeys. The conditions in the pen are crowded and unsanitary, which makes it easy for diseases to spread.
Baby turkeys are also not given enough space to move around, which can lead to deformities and injuries. As a result of these conditions, many baby turkeys die before they even have a chance to live.
Overcrowding is therefore a major problem for the turkey industry, and it is something that needs to be addressed urgently.
Though it’s common to think of stress as an emotion experienced by humans, animals can also experience stress. For example, baby turkeys raised in commercial operations are often subject to high levels of stress, which can have deadly consequences.
The main cause of stress for these turkeys is their living conditions. They are typically crammed into crowded spaces with inadequate ventilation, leading to poor air quality. This can quickly lead to respiratory problems, which are further exacerbated by the dusty conditions.
The combination of these factors puts considerable stress on the birds’ immune system, making them more susceptible to disease. In severe cases, this stress can even be fatal. As a result, it’s clear that commercial turkey operations need to make some changes in order to protect the health of these animals.
As any poultry farmer knows, turkeys are susceptible to a number of diseases, many of which can be fatal to young birds. One of the most common problems is wet bedding or wet feed, which can lead to dehydration and death.
Wet bedding or wet feed can also cause respiratory problems, as the wet conditions provide an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. In addition, wet bedding or wet feed can make it difficult for turkeys to regulate their body temperature, leading to chilling and death.
As a result, it is essential to keep turkeys dry and free from moisture. If you suspect that your turkey may have wet bedding (regardless of whether you are using cardboard, straw, pine shavings, or something else) or wet feed, remove the bird from the wet material and place it in a dry, warm location immediately. With proper care, you can help keep your turkey flock healthy and safe.
Dying Turkeys: My Story, A Cautionary Tale
The last time I wrote about the turkeys was when we first got them in the mail. A lot has happened since then. We started out with an order of 15 to split among friends.
One became weak after the first 24 hours, though, and even though we gave him some sugar water hoping to perk him up he ended up dying the second day.
14 turkeys. We kept four, we gave four to another friend, and two other friends got three each. Ours were three Narragansetts and one gorgeous Bourbon Red.
They were SO much fun to watch! And they were way friendlier and sweeter than chickens are. Ours did really well initially.
Fortunately, a friend gave me a heads-up that turkeys need higher protein than baby chicks do or they’ll die. So we fed them Chick Starter (NOT Chick Starter/Grower), which has 24% protein.
Two of our friends fed their turkeys Chick Starter/Grower, which has much lower protein, and two out of three of their turkeys died and they were each left with only one turkey.
We kept our babies inside in a large plastic tote under a heat lamp for several weeks. One day I noticed that one of the turkeys was strutting his stuff around another poult, like we’ve seen the roosters do to the hens, and we figured he must be a tom. We all cracked up at such a little guy acting so big and bad!
He was my favorite. I could put my hand down in front of him, and he’d climb in and sit down on my palm for as long as I’d let him stay there.
When they fully feathered out and didn’t huddle underneath the light anymore, we took the lamp out. At this point we figured they were probably ready to enjoy some grass beneath their feet, so we took them outside and let them roam in a movable pen.
As soon as they touched the ground for the first time, all four of them laid down on their sides in the dirt. I smiled with pleasure, “Oh look, they love it! They’re taking a dirt bath like the chickens!”
Little did I know.
In reality, the sudden temperature change from air conditioning to almost 90* was too much for them to handle. And even though I put shade over them, and gave them plenty of water, one died later that day.
It was my favorite tom.
I was so, so sad. In hind sight, I was so dumb.
I couldn’t figure it out. Why’d he die? I noticed that their water container had been knocked over, and I assumed maybe he died from thirst. Can turkeys die from thirst in a matter of hours? I brought the remaining three inside again for the night.
The next day, I took our three lively turkeys back outside to enjoy some fresh air. I put them in a shady place in the yard, and went about my day.
A few hours later I went to check on them and noticed that their pen was now in full sun. And in horror I discovered another dead turkey. This time the water was still full, and I confirmed that it was the heat that had done them in.
We were more careful after that. We only had two left! But they were getting big, and really starting to stink in the house. I decided to put them back outside during the day, but I’d be more careful to keep them in full shade the whole time.
Unfortunately, even that wasn’t good enough. We lost the beautiful Bourbon Red (the light colored one in the photo) a few days later to the heat. Even in the shade she still got too hot.
I called my other friend to check on her four turkey babies. I couldn’t believe it when her daughter told me that three of theirs had died from the heat as well!
Man! What were we supposed to do?! We couldn’t keep them in the house forever.
With only one left we had to be really careful. I still took him outside, but only for like an hour or two, and then I brought him back into the laundry room. He made a lot of noise though, so at night he slept in the closed up greenhouse.
Finally we decided that it was just time to build a permanent place for him outdoors. So, three days ago Jerry rigged a fence around our old goat shed (which is in the cool woods) and we moved the turkey in.
We stuck the two guineas in with him (or her?) so he wouldn’t be lonely. They did fine the first two days. That is, until this morning.
When I went out to check on them earlier today, the turkey and the guineas were nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere, calling for them. And then I spotted it… a scattering of gray feathers, and a hole under the fence. A fox must have done it. Dang it!
I found one of the guineas a little while later, hanging out around the chicken coop. And I held out hope that maybe the turkey would miraculously show up. But it hasn’t. We’re out of luck.
Turkeys Are Still a Good Option
By understanding the most common causes of death in turkeys, you can take steps to prevent it in your flock.
In addition to providing a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, make sure your birds have access to clean water and fresh air. If you notice any signs of illness or distress in your turkeys, seek veterinary help right away.
With proper care, your turkeys should enjoy a long and healthy life. Have you had success keeping your turkeys alive? What tips would you add?
Have you ever tried raising turkeys? How’d it go for you? Any tips on what I should have done differently?
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.