The turkey (Meleagaris galloparo) is a well known bird in North America and Europe, but in rest of the world especially in developing countries it is yet to be established on commercial line. The probable reason for turkey not being popular in our country is because chickens are so familiar and grow so well that there seems no reason to consider any other poultry. Inspite of this fact the turkey has good potential in developing countries especially in the areas where people prefer lean meat. The bird is quite suitable for upliftment of small and marginal farmers as it can be easily reared in free range or under semi-intensive system with little investment for housing, equipment and management.
The team also had discussions with Dr.P Ranga Reddy, Professor & Head, Poultry research station, Nandanam, Chennai, about his experience with turkey farming etc.
4. 0 Unlike chicken turkeys are reared only for meat purpose, as they have ability to grow fast
4.1 In India following institutions are maintaining small turkey units:
- Department of Animal Husbandry, Kerala
- Department of Animal Husbandry, Tamil Nadu
- Tamil Nadu University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences
- University of Agriculture Sciences, Bangalore
- Hissar Agriculture University, Hissar
- Central Poultry breeding farm, Hessaragatta
- Central Avian Research Institute, Izatnagar
4:2. Breeds of the Turkeys: The world famous seven standard breeds of turkeys are :
- White Holland
- Bourban red
- Beltsville small white
- The exotic breeds used in our country for commercial production are :
- Broad Breasted Bronze (BBB)
- Broad Breasted large white
- Beltsnille Small white
Indigenous and non descriptive turkey are found in small number in and around Mirzapur and Allahabad district of Uttar Pradesh and in some parts of Southern India.
4.3 Package of management practices followed by the farmers :
4.3.1 Housing :
- Farmers are rearing Turkeys in deep litter system. The construction of shed was on the lines of poultry shed with mangalore tile roofing. One farmer had provided open area on one side of the shed, to allow free movement of birds. This practice provides exercise to birds resulting in better growth performance.
- None of the farmers were using the litter material. The shed were cleaned twice a day.
- The space provided per adult bird ranged from 4 to 6 Sq.ft.
- The end walls of the shed were East - west orientation.
- Roof hanging of 2 to 4 feet was seen.
- The average cost of construction ranged from Rs.60 to 90 per Sq.ft.
- All in all out system of rearing was followed.
- As the flock size was small ( 200 to 500 birds), no separate labour quarters were constructed except at one farm where the beneficiary was maintaing other birds and a small dairy unit.
4.3.2 Equipments :
- On an average one drinker was provided for every 15 to 25 birds.
- On an average one feeder was provided to 50 to 75 birds.
- Brooding was usually done by using electrical bulbs.
4.3.3 Feeding :
- Readymade feed for turkey is not available in the market, as the demand for the same is very little. The farmers were procuring the ready made broiler feed and were adding 10Kgs. of concentrate so as to increase its protein content, as turkeys need high protein diet.
- The average feed requirement ranged from 20 to 25 Kg. per bird up to Six months of age. The feed requirement for the male birds is more than the females as the males are heavier to females. The feed requirement is less where the farmers were feeding some amount of chopped green grasses.
- The average feed cost works out to be Rs.10 per kg.
4.3.4 Purchase of Poults :
Farmers were mostly purchasing one month old poults, from Nandanam Chennai or SRF farm Udumalpet, for rearing for Six months. The cost of the bird ranged from 150 to 175 per poult including transportation etc.
4.3.5 Diseases and vaccination :
The turkeys are resistant to most of the diseases. The early mortality is mostly due to failure of bird to drink water. The mortality ranged from 5 to 35%. The vaccination done by the farmers were for Ranikhet and fowl Cholera only.
4.3.6 Sex determination
Sex determination is not easy in turkey. However, following methods are generally used for the same:
- Vent Sexing at the time of hatching
- By weight - Males are heavier to females
- Matured male of all species have conspicuous black bearing attached to the skin of the upper region.
- Dewbill or snood, a fleshy protuberance near base of the beak- It is relatively large, plump and elastic in males and small , thin and elastic in females.
- Male sturt even at day-old age and continue to do so throughout their life- Sturting is not seen in females.
4.3.7 Marketing :
Normally the birds are marketed at the age of six months for meat purpose. The average body weight is 6 - 8 Kgs. and the birds were generally lifted by the traders from the farm itself. There appears to be no retail market for the birds on day to day basis except during festive season like Christmas, Dipawali etc.
5. Package of Management practices :
The package of common management practices for turkey farming are given in the following paragraphs.
- The shed should be located at an elevated place and it should be well constructed with proper ventilation and drainage systems. The shed should have good flooring that can be easily cleaned and disinfected. Cement floors are preferred for the purpose.
- Turkeys are generally reared on range or in deep litter system. The advantages of deep litter system compared with range system include excellent protection against predators and adverse weather, lower land cost, low labour cost, disease prevention (soil borne diseases, parasites etc) and convenience of management.
- Turkey poults grow very rapidly and for the best performance they should never be over crowded. One sq. foot of floor space per poult is required during the first 3-4 weeks and thereafter up to 8th week, the floor space is increased to 1.5 sq. ft per poult. Thus, a compartment of 10x10 ft will be suitable for housing 100 poults up to 4 weeks of age and thereafter, they may be transferred to a compartment of 10x15 ft for further floor brooding until 8th week. From 8th to 12th weeks of age, the floor space should be increased to 2 sq. ft. per growing poult and thereafter until 16th week of age, the minimum floor space allowance is 2 .5 sq. ft per poult. After 16th week onward they require 3-5 sq. ft. per turkey. For small type turkeys, the floor space requirements may be reduced slightly. The smaller floor space can be provided if the birds are debeaked and ample ventilation is provided mechanically to lower the risk of respiratory infection. The floor space is reduced to almost one third under range system since only some shelter is required to protect them from rain and sun.
- Turkey requires warmer conditions than chickens and a temperature of 950 F should be maintained during the first week of brooding. After this age the brooder temperature may be reduced approximately 50 F weekly until it reached 70 F or are equivalent to the prevailing environmental temperature. Artificial heat may be discontinued during 6th week in winter brooding and 4th week in summer brooding. The proper temperature in the brooder can be known by watching the free movement of the poults in the brooder after one week or so.
5.2 Equipments :
Use scientifically designed equipment for brooding, feeding and watering purposes. BIS specifications available for the equipment may be shown to the manufacturer and get the equipment manufactured locally, to reduce the cost.
5.3 Availability of Poults :
- Poults can be procured from the reputed institutes / farmers. Usually 3 - 5% extra chicks are supplied.
- Poults should be purchased from hatchery having disease- free breeder stock
- Poults should be toe clipped on the inside and front toes on each foot
- Debeaking of the bird at about 10 days of age.
5.4 Feeding and Feed requirement
Turkey requires higher amount of protein, aminoacids, vitamins, minerals as compared to chicken. The nutrient requirement of Turkeys as recommended by NRC - 1994 is as follows:
||0 - 4
||4 - 8
||8 - 12
||12 - 16
||16 - 20
||20 - 24
Maintaining energy level as specified by NRC is not feasible under Indian conditions, 10% less of all nutrients specified by NRC can be followed under Indian conditions. Readymade feed for turkeys are not available in the market, however the birds can be reared on broiler feed with additional amount of protein source.
- Use properly designed feeders and control the rats to avoid feed wastage.
- Keep proper records on feed consumption per bird for each batch.
5.5 Water and electricity :
The farm should have these facilities. Always provide clean drinking water. Water should always be available at birds.
5.6 Veterinary facilities :
- Although turkeys are resistant to various diseases but the veterinary care is required at initial stages and for vaccinations etc.
- The turkeys are completely resistant to Marek's and Infectious Bronchitis, Ranikhet, Fowl pox and Coccidiosis occur in mild form. Some of the commonly encountered diseases in turkeys are Fowl Cholera, Erysipelas, Haemorrhagic enteritis and Avian Influenza. The turkeys are protected from fowl cholera and Erysipelas by vaccination.
5.7 Training to the entrepreneurs :
The facility is available at TANUVAS, Chennai; CARI, Izatnagar; Central Poultry breeding farm, Hessaragatta. The duration of course ranges from two to four weeks.
5.8 Reproductive parameters
||Age of laying
||24 - 28 weeks
||No. of eggs produced per year
||70 - 100
||85 gm app.
||Male female Ratio
||1 : 5
||No.of chicks per female
||43 - 63
5.9 Marketing :
- The demand for turkey poult is mostly seasonal especially during Christmas, Dipawali and New year.
- The demand for the birds is slowly picking up for Biryani making
- There is no established market for the turkey
- As the average weight of the bird is more (6 to 8 Kg.) it is not finding a place in the daily diet of middle class family, who usually prefers broilers
- Most of the birds are lifted from the farm by the traders and are sold in the near by states.