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Let’s Talk Turkey! PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Let’s Talk Turkey!. Free-Range Turkey Production & Marketing. Herman Beck-Chenoweth Hartshorn, Missouri © 2005. Take good notes or see Back40Books for the Production Manual & Video. Overview of a typical turkey range. Fundamentals of Free-Range Turkey Production.

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Let’s Talk Turkey!

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Let’s Talk Turkey!

Free-Range Turkey Production&Marketing

Herman Beck-Chenoweth

Hartshorn, Missouri

© 2005

Take good notes or see Back40Books for the Production Manual & Video

Overview of a typical turkey range

Fundamentals of Free-RangeTurkey Production

  • For breeds such as the Broad Breasted Bronze order your birds for Memorial Day delivery.

  • Turkeys do not develop fat under the skin until 24 weeks. Harvested too early they are dry and tasteless.

Fundamentals of Range TurkeyProduction

  • Maximum stocking rate is 100 birds per acre.

  • Keep Skid Roosts at least 100’ away from fence rows.

  • Use four electric wires on step-in posts for predator protection. Buy a powerful fencer.

  • Sassafras roost help control fowl mites

A Good Way to Brood Baby Chicks or Poults for the First Few Days

Note the Poultry Wire

Brooding Poults

  • Feed new poults un-medicated 30% game bird starter for the 1st 4 weeks; feeding 18-24% feed will lead to possible cannibalism.

  • A plastic wading pool will hold 100 poults for the first week.

  • A 14 x 14 brooder room will hold 100 birds until they are ready to move out to range in 8 weeks.

  • Poults do not develop disease resistance until 8 weeks old.

Combination Brooder, Rabbit Center and Potential Turkey Breeding Pen

Free-Range Turkey Basics

  • Know the market before you select your breed.

  • Learn about the importance of STRAIN

  • Deal with a hatchery that will verify the birds you receive will be the strain you select!

  • Learn how long the grow-out time is for your turkey type.

Free-Range Essentials

  • Maintain at least 150’ between skid houses and perimeter fencing to minimize predator problems.

  • Keep skids 100’ apart to maintain flock separation.

  • Move skids ahead 50’ to fresh range as necessary,

    usually every 2-4 weeks, or anytime an area 3’ or larger around skids is worn down.

    Expect the birds to range about 40’ from each skid.

Potential Free-Range Profits

  • Chickens sold at $2.49 per pound will net $5.00 per bird net profit. Many producers get $3-3.50 #

  • Eggs sell for $2.00 - $3.50 per dozen netting $1.00 to $2.50 per dozen profit

  • Turkeys sold at $2.49/pound produce a net profit of $30-$40 per bird; turkey eggs bring $3-$4 per dozen

  • These are bottom end prices in today’s marketplace !

Let’s Do the Numbers

An Important Note!

  • Do an enterprise budget before you commit to turkey production.

  • Remember, near the end of it’s growing period a turkey can eat up to a pound of feed per day.

Over view of Typical Turkey Paddock

300 Gallon Skid Water Tank

Turkeys do well on range; they can harvest up to 30% of their food needs

Suggested Feed Formula

The Debate aboutMeat & Bone Meal

  • Studies affirm the importance of meat and bone meal in the diet of poultry

  • There is NO danger of transmitting “Mad Cow”

  • Helps build strong bones (legs)

  • Costs $195/ton

  • Contains 50% Protein & 4% Phosphorus

Meat & Bone Meal Sources

  • Inland Products (bulk only)

  • Jeremy: 614.444.1127

  • Google: National Renderers Association

  • Note: You will have to mix it in by hand unless you have your own grinder/mixer

2 skid types are needed: Roost Roof & Shade Roof

4 Poly WiresStep in PostsHigh Joule Fencer

What Killed This Bourbon White?

The Proof Lies Here!

A Meal Fit for A Free-Range Poultry Farmer’s Family!

Good Looking Range After Moving Poultry Skids


  • While feed savings will be realized from range usage the goal is not so much feed savings as to provide vitamins, minerals and exercise for improved meat flavor and quality.

Turkeys and Cattle WorkWell Together

A nice mixture of turkey varietiesgrazing hard

A Bad Place for Turkeys to Be!

Poultryized vs. Unfertilized Range

Turkey Paddock One WeekAfter Thanksgiving

Poultry Fertility vs. Cattle Fertility+ Composted Manure for the Garden

Turkey Paddock in Early Morning

One with A Roost Roof& one With A Shade Roof

I was thinking about gutteringand a holding tank for each skid!?

Why I don’t use ElectroNetFencing

Turkeys do Well on Rangein the Winter


  • To maximize your profits you need to have a branded product produced in your own on-farm State or USDA inspected processing plant

  • OR an excellent processor that can butcher and package your birds better than what folks see in the store.

  • Tacky processing will result in lower profits!

Small-Scale on-Farm USDA Inspected Poultry Processing Plant

A well designed 14’ x 30’economical slaughter facility

Processing Plant Options & Costs

  • Under 400 turkeys per year minimal investment; no ability to sell to restaurants or health food stores. Cost less than $1000

  • 400-10,000 turkeys per year: State inspected plant required, no bird-by-bird inspection. Cost is less than $10,000.

  • State or USDA approved plant with bird-by-bird inspection. Costs $15-$30,000; birds can be sold to restaurants or health food stores.

Financing Options

  • USDA County Revolving Loan Funds

  • SBA loans

  • Equipment leasing

  • Conventional bank loans

  • Tax breaks for adding new employees

  • Minorities eligible for preferential treatment

Resources forRange Poultry Producers

  • www.Free-RangePoultry.com

  • www.BACK40Books.com

Turkeys Want to be Your Friend

Ask the Turkey!(Question Time)

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