The domesticated turkey, a bird native to North America, is a large poultry raised for its meat, with up to 50 per cent profit for both local and broiler varieties Malam Musa Abdulrahman, an assistant research fellow at the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) in Shika, Zaria said.
The research fellow revealed that the cost of raising turkey depended on which variety one wanted to raise, whether it was local variety or broiler, adding that most of the local varieties had adapted to our weather and could therefore, perform on normal conditions without spending extra on feed and vaccines.
“To start a turkey business at subsistence level, you may start with N30, 000; N10, 000 to get an adult male (stag/tom), while the remaining N20, 000 could get up to three adult females (hens).
According to Abdulrahaman, local turkeys dwelt on scavenging on food remnants and leftovers and might be fed with wheat offal, maize bran and grains, with toms/stags weighing 7kg to 10kg and hens weighing between 5kg and 7kg.
He, however, disclosed that if the local varieties were fed with improved feeds like grower mash, layer mash and maggot meal, an adult male might weigh up to 15kg while adult females might weigh up to 10kg.
Abdulrahman added that if the target was to achieve a weight of 10-15kg, you could feed them with grower mash at the early stages, from hatching to one month, and then later feed them with maize bran and/ or the layer mash.
On their maturity, he explained that it took turkeys six months to mature, and females laid up to 10 eggs or more out of which eight poults could survive if you had a good hen, but averagely five survive.
He noted that it took 28 days for the eggs to hatch into chicks (poults) and one could detect a hen that was ovulating by seeing her easily submitting to the stag; “The hen normally lies in front of the stag when he approaches her,” he said.
Similarly, Abdulrahaman stated that mature males were characterised by their courtship trait of opening of the hind tail and making unique sounds.
He clarified that generally, local turkeys were more resistant to diseases because they had adapted to local weather, but might also be affected by fowl pox at two to three months old.
He advised that vaccines be administered to broiler varieties at one month to prevent the disease which affected them at transitional stage to maturity.
The research fellow warned that at early stages, poults did not differentiate between feed and sand, so the farmer should put day olds (chicks) and poults together so that the chicks taught the poults how to feed.
Alternatively, in the absence of chicks, he said one might use fingers to attract their attention by hitting the chick tray until they learnt to feed on their own.
“You have to keep them indoors at early stages under close supervision because day old to three day old poults cannot pick themselves up when they fall upside down, so you have to pick them up otherwise you may lose them because they don’t have enough energy to get up,” he advised.
The researcher also advised that broiler turkeys be kept in a complete deep litter system with wood shavings, drinkers, feeders put in place, adding that they should not be put in battery cages.