Turkey, scientifically known as Meleagris gallopavo, belongs to the family of birds called Meleagrididae. The young birds are called poults; the male birds are referred to as turkey cocks or toms while the female is called turkey hens (Ogundipe and Dafwang, 1980). Turkey is reared primarily for meat or as breeders to produce hatching eggs. They are rarely kept for the production of table eggs though the eggs are edible.
The growth of the turkey industry in Nigeria has risen to 1.5- 2 million tons per year. This fast growth in the industry was made possible by the intensification of production and development of large breeds with standard weights ranging from 15-17 kg for male and 8-10kg for female; some of these come from homesteads.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN SETTING UP A GOOD TURKEY ENTERPRISE
The following are required for good management of the Turkey production Enterprise.
The facilities required for a certain number of chickens should be doubled for the same number of turkeys. The stocking density is 0.12 sq. meters.
A brooding area with a heating source is essential for the first four weeks approximately. Young turkeys are weaned off heat gently and carefully over several days. The behaviour of the flock is the best guide to indicate if the birds are comfortable. When birds are huddled together it indicates inadequate heat. Ideally, the birds should be spread out over the space provided. From six weeks onwards turkeys can thrive well with good litter or bedding such as chopped straw or white wood shavings. House size is based on the maximum weight of birds to be in the house at any one time. For best farm-fresh results generous space should be allowed – 0.4 to 0.5 square meters per bird and houses (without a controlled environment) should as a general rule not be stocked at rates greater than 20 kg per square meter
Extensive management of turkey requires the establishment of well managed fenced pasture having ranged shelter.
The feeding regime for turkeys reared intensively is as shown below:
· Turkey starter diet: 0 -8weeks
· Turkey grower diet: 8 – 16 weeks
· Turkey finisher diet: 16 – 20 weeks
· Turkey roaster diet: > 20 weeks of age.
Turkeys are marketed as meat birds any time from 16 weeks of age. The Crude protein of starter is 28% while finisher has CP of 18 – 20%. The feed intake up to 24 weeks of age is about 25kg/bird.
Debeaking (beak trimming)
The young flock should be debeaked in order to control feather pecking and cannibalism, most especially when they are to be raised in confinement. Debeaking is done at 10 days of age to prevent cannibalism.
The removal of the snood, the tubular fleshy appendage on top of the head near the front, is referred to as “desnooding”. It helps to prevent injuries that might from picking or fighting and may result in erysipelas disease. The snood can be removed at day-old by thumbnail and finger pressure. After about 3 weeks, it can be cut off close to the head with sharp, pointed scissors
This is the removal of toenails usually done at the hatchery, but it can also be done at 5 weeks old. Turkeys kept in large groups, especially when excited, often step on each other causing scratches or skin tears on the backs and sides; also to prevent back-scratching and tearing of flesh during mating. The problem is aggravated with increased flock sizes and densities, especially when turkeys are reared in confinement.
The most common form of toe clipping involves cutting the inside and middle toe (front) on each foot. Toes can be cut with surgical scissors, a nail clipper or a modified hot-blade debeaking.
These are practised when the birds are placed on range usually at 15 weeks of age in order to prevent flight.
It appears that turkeys are susceptible to diseases, indicating that they require a much higher level of management and skill of other domestic fowls. There are four primary causes of disease: genetics, nutrition, environment and infection.
Bio-security must be a priority to control infectious diseases and minimize the introduction of pathogens into flocks. Biosecurity is the utilization of measures which can stop or slow down the introduction and spread of infection into or between components of production systems. It includes managing people, equipment, pests and their potential for carrying diseases into a flock. This includes proper employee and visitor hygiene such as appropriate footwear, clothing and sanitation stations. Mortality disposal should be part of the bio-security protocol.
Some common diseases of turkeys include:
· Blackhead (Histomoniasis)
· Newcastle disease
· Fowl cholera,
· Fowlpox and
· Haemorrhagic enteritis.
As in other poultry species such as chickens, parasites affect the turkeys by causing discomfort or significant mortalities in birds, thus reducing the birds’ productivity levels. The most common parasite of turkeys is the fowl mite and roundworms are a very common internal parasite. A regular, once-a-month deworming with an appropriate dewormer will reduce roundworms to a harmless level
TYPICAL VACCINATION SCHEDULE FOR COMMERCIAL TURKEYS
|1||Antibiotics||Inject subcutaneously in the neck|
|10||Coryza (if endemic)
|14||Coryza (if endemic)||Drinking water|
|23-24||Hemorrhagic enteritis||Drinking water|
|6 Weeks||Newcastle||Drinking water|
|7 Weeks||Cholera (M9)||Drinking water|
|9 Weeks||Cholera (varying serotypes)||Drinking water|
|14 Weeks||Cholera (varying serotypes)||Drinking water|