1. Broad breasted bronze
The basic plumage color is black and not bronze. The females have black breast feathers with white tips, which help in sex determination as early as 12 weeks of age.
2. Broad breasted white
This is a cross between Board breasted bronze and White Holland with white feathers. White plumage turkeys seems to be suitable Indian-Agro climatic conditions as they have better heat tolerance and also good and clean in appearance after dressing.
3. Beltsville small white
It closely resembles the Board breasted white in color and shape but smaller in size. Egg production, fertility and hatchability tend to be higher and broodiness tends to be lower than heavy varieties.
4. Nandanam Turkey-1
Nandanam Turkey – 1 variety is a cross between the black desi variety and exotic Beltsville small white variety. It is suited for Tamil Nadu climatic conditions.
Male – Female ratio
Average egg weight
Average day old young one weight
Age at sexual maturity
Average egg number
Average body weight at 20 weeks
4.5 – 5 (Female)
Egg production period
14 -15 weeks
17 – 18 weeks
Average feed consumption upto marketable age
24 -26 kg
17 – 19 kg
Mortality during brooding period
The incubation period is 28 days in turkey. There are two methods of incubation.
(a) Natural incubation with broody hens:
Naturally turkeys are good brooders and the broody hen can hatch 10-15 numbers of eggs. Only clean eggs with good eggshell and shape should be placed for brooding to get 60-80% hatchability and healthy young ones.
(b) Artificial Incubation:
In artificial incubation, eggs are hatched with the help of incubators. The temperature and relative humidity in setter and hatcher are as follows:
Temperature (Degree F)
Relative humidity (%)
Egg should be turned at hourly intervals daily. Eggs should be collected frequently to prevent soiling and breakage and also to get better hatchability.
In turkey 0-4 weeks period is called as brooding period. However, in winter brooding period is extended upto 5-6 weeks. As a thumb rule the turkey young ones need double hover space as compared to chicken. Brooding day old young ones can be done using infra red bulbs or gas brooder and traditional brooding systems.
Points to be noted during brooding:
The average mortality rate is 6-10% during the first four weeks of life. Young ones by nature are reluctant to eat and drink in the first few days of life, primarily because of bad eyesight and nervousness. Hence, they have to be force fed.
Starve out problem is one of the major factors for early mortality in young ones. So special care should be taken for supplying feed and water to turkey poults. In force feeding, milk should be fed at the rate of 100ml per liter of water and one boiled egg have to be given at the rate of one per 10 young ones up to fifteen days. This will compensate the protein and energy requirements of the young ones.
Young ones can be attracted to the feed by gentle tapping of the container with the fingers. Colored marbles or pebbles placed in feeders and waterers will also attract young ones towards them. Since turkeys are fond of greens, some chopped green leaves should also be added to the feed to improve the feed intake. Also colored egg fillers can be used for the first 2 days as feeders.
Turkeys can be reared under free range or intensive system.
A. Free range system of rearing:
In the free range system, in one acre of fenced land we can rear 200-250 adult turkeys. Shelter should be provided during night at the rate of 3-4 sq.ft. per bird. They should be protected from predators during scavenging. Planting of trees is desirable for providing shade and cooler environment. The range should be rotated which will help to reduce incidence of parasite infestation.
Free range feeding
Since turkeys are very good scavengers, it can consume earthworms, small insects, snails, kitchen waste and termites, which are rich in protein and that will reduce the feed cost by fifty percent. Apart from this leguminous fodder like Lucerne, Desmanthus, Stylo etc., can be fed. To avoid leg weakness and lameness in free ranging birds, calcium should be supplemented at the rate of 250gm per week per bird in the form of oyster shell. Ten percent of feed can be substituted with vegetable waste to reduce the cost of feed.
Turkeys in the free range system are highly susceptible for internal (round worms) and external parasites (fowl mite). Hence once in a month deworming and dipping is essential to improve the growth of the birds.
B. Intensive system of rearing
When turkeys are reared under deep litter system, the general managemental conditions are similar to that of chicken but care should be taken to provide adequate floor, waterer and feeder space to accommodate the large bird.
Feeder Space (cms)
Waterer Space (cms)
The temperament of turkeys is usually nervous; hence they get panicky at all stages. Hence entry of visitors in to the turkey’s house should be restricted.
Young ones should be debeaked to control feather picking and cannibalism. Debeaking can be done at day old or 3-5 weeks of age. Remove the beak at about one half the distance from nostril to the tip of the beak.
Removal of the snood or dewbill (the fleshy protuberance near the base of the beak) is to prevent the head injuries from picking and fighting. At the day old the snood can be removed by finger pressure. At 3 weeks of age it can be cut off close to the head with sharp scissors.
Detoeing or toe clipping
Clipping is done at day old by removing the tip of the toe just to the inside of the outer most toe pad including the entire toenail.
The methods of feeding are mash feeding and pellet feeding.
In intensive system, greens can be fed upto 50% of the total diet on dry mash basis. Fresh Lucerne is first class green feed for turkeys of all ages. Apart from the Desmanthus and Stylo can be chopped and fed turkeys to reduce the feed cost.
Body weight and feed consumption
Age in weeks
Average Body Weight (Kg)
Total feed consumption (Kg)
Cumulative feed efficiency
Upto 4th week
Upto 8th week
Upto 12th week
Upto 16th week
Upto 20th week
The mating behavior of adult male tom is known as Strut, wherein it spreads the wings and makes a peculiar sound frequently. In natural mating, the male: female ratio is 1:5 for medium type turkeys and 1:3 for large types. On an average 40-50 young ones is expected from each adult female. Adult males are rarely used for mating after first year due to reduced fertility. There is a tendency in adult males to develop affinity towards a particular female, so we have to change the adult males for every 15 days.
The advantage of artificial insemination is to maintain high fertility from turkey flock throughout the season.
Collection of semen from adult male
Insemination in hens
Poults unthrifty and may develop eye opacity and blindness.
Susceptible age 3-4 weeks
Elimination of infected breeder flock and hatchery fumigation and sanitation.
Blue comb disease
Depression, loss of weight, frothy or watery droppings, darkening of head and skin.
Depopulation and decontamination of farm. Give rest period.
Chronic respiratory disease
Coughing, gurgling, sneezing, nasal exudates.
Secure Mycoplasma free stock
Sudden losses, swollen snood, discoloration of parts of face, droppy
Purplish head, greenish yellow droppings, sudden death
Sanitation and disposal of dead birds.
Small yellow blisters on comb and wattles and scab formation
One or more dead birds
Enlarged hocks, foot pads, lameness, breast blisters
Purchase clean stock
Nasal discharge, swollen sinuses and coughing
Secure young ones from disease free breeders
Haemorrhages, Pale, fatty liver and kidneys
Avoid feed spoilage
New Castle disease
Gasping, wheezing, twisting of neck, paralysis, soft shelled eggs
Diarrhea in poults
Prevention and flock sanitation
Snicking, rales and discharge of excessive nasal mucus
Bloody diarrhea and loss of weight
Proper sanitation and management of litter
Turkey venereal disease
Lowered fertility and hatchability
ND – B1 Strain
4th & 5th Week
ND – (R2B)
8 – 10 Week
People prefer turkey meat because of its leanest nature. The protein, fat, energy value of turkey meat are 24%,6.6%, 162 Calories per 100 gm of meat. Mineral like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc and sodium are present. It is also rich in essential amino acids and vitamins like niacin, vitamin B6 and B12. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids and low in cholesterol.
A market study shows that a male turkey sold at 24 weeks of age weighing 10 to 20 kg with expenditure of Rs.300 to 450 will give a profit of Rs. 500 to 600. Likewise a female will give a profit of Rs.300 to 400 in a span of 24 weeks of time. Besides, the turkey can be reared in scavenging and semi-scavenging conditions also.
Source: Handbook on Animal Husbandry, ICAR and Text books on poultry production
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