If you’re the proud owner of some wide-open spaces, pasture-raised turkey farming might be the perfect profitable business venture for you to start at home. Even bed and breakfast owners with adequate room for fencing can use turkeys as a pleasant attraction that won’t disturb the guests at the crack of dawn. And turkey meat and eggs have a growing local demand for more than just Thanksgiving. So, Why not start a turkey farm?
Why should you start a turkey farm?
There are plenty of reasons to start a poultry farm. If this is your first venture into raising live animals, poultry might be a good place to start. Creating a space to raise birds is reasonably straightforward, requiring a closed area for raising and an optional fenced-in space for free-range. But turkey farming may just be the easiest of all poultry raising. Compared to chickens, ducks, and quail, turkeys are quite domesticated. They’re easier to maintain and wrangle than other farming birds.
Starting home farms has been growing in popularity as consumers make the switch toward more locally sourced meat and produce. For special occasions like Thanksgiving, families are more likely to splurge on a quality bird, and local a turkey farm offers unparalleled freshness. To take it a step further, the US is currently importing turkeys to accommodate the growing demand for lean white meat. Starting a home turkey farm can fill a significant niche in your community.
How To Start A Home Turkey Farm
Turkey farm (s) are considered very simple to start because they require minimal equipment. For ten baby turkeys or poults, you’ll need at least a 10 x 10 enclosed area. No matter where you live, shelter is necessary for protecting your flock from heat and inclement weather. Some farmers opt for an open-air enclosure with a covered metal roof and poultry fencing securely wrapped around the steel anchors. Whenever possible, the enclosures should be free of any draft, so a well ventilated enclosed metal shed is likely your best bet. A more massive shed with divided sections can provide clean and dry storage space for feed and more, plus a safe space for the turkeys.
Providing an area to graze is optional, but if you so choose, you’ll need to put up sufficient poultry fencing. Whether you see them or not, there are likely predators in the area that could be a substantial threat to your birds. Bring the turkeys back into their enclosed area at night for protection. Other supplies that you’ll need to get started include:
- Wood shavings, straw, or hay for their enclosure
- A heat lamp for poults
- Hanging feeders
- A poultry water fountain
- Poultry feed for each stage of raising
- Poultry fencing and stakes
Turkeys come in a variety of breeds, and not all are suitable for selling large amounts of meat. If your profits hinge on selling whole birds, you’ll want a more modern breed such as the Broad Breasted Whites of Standard Bronze turkeys. They’re the fastest-growing breeds and put on weight quickly, shortening the turnaround time for lower overall costs and higher cash profits. No matter which breed you choose, most hatcheries have the option available to inoculate poults to avoid diseases that could wipe out a flock down the line.
What added costs should you expect in turkey farming?
Once you’ve covered your initial costs, including startup equipment, poults, and additional land, if necessary, you will more than likely want to employ a butcher for your birds. Home turkey farming businesses generally lack the expertise required to clean and butcher a fully grown turkey properly. Start your search for a local butcher early. Mosts have waiting lists and require scheduling weeks in advance.
You should have your butchering arrangements ready before you begin raising turkeys to ensure that you’ll have the meat prepared promptly. Most turkey farmers recommend starting your finishing ration at 14 weeks of age to pack on extra pounds before dressing. Schedule your butchering for around 22 to 28 weeks of age, depending on sex and breed. You’ll need to have their poultry cages prepped and ready for transport.
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