Turkeys are not classified into breeds, however seven standard varieties are available, Bronze, White Holland, Bourbon red, Narragansett, Black, Slate, Beltsvilles


Broad Breasted Bronze, Broad Breasted Large White and Beltsville Small White varieties are common in India.


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


This is a cross between Board breasted bronze and White Holland with white feathers. This variety was developed at the Cornell University. 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.


This variety was developed at Agricultural University Research Station, Beltsville, USA. 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.



Turkeys are relatively more resistant to some of the diseases as compared to chicken. Infection from Marek’s disease and Infectious Bronchitis are extremely rare. Ranikhet disease and Coccidiosis occur only in mild form. The most common diseases are Fowl pox, Fowl cholera, Fowl typhoid, Mycoplasmosis, Blue comb and round worm infections. Although effective drugs are available for prevention and treatment of most of these diseases, greater emphasis should be placed on prevention.

  • 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, Hemorrhagic enteritis and Avian Influenza. The turkeys are protected from fowl cholera and Erysipelas by vaccination.

Some disease that can be seen in turkey is given below

Common disease = Cause = Symptoms = Prevention

(1) Arizonosis = Salmonella arizona = Poults unthrifty and may develop eye opacity and blindness. Susceptible age 3-4 weeks = Elimination of infected breeder flock and hatchery fumigation and sanitation

(2) Blue comb disease = Corona virus = Depression, loss of weight, frothy or watery droppings, darkening of head and skin = Depopulation and decontamination of farm. Give rest period.

(3) Chronic respiratory disease = Mycoplasma gallisepticum = Coughing, gurgling, sneezing, nasal exudates = Secure Mycoplasma free stock

(4) Erysipelas = Erysipelothrix rhusiopathidae = Sudden losses, swollen snood, discoloration of parts of face, droppy = Vaccination

(5) Fowl cholera = Pasturella multocida = Purplish head, greenish yellow droppings, sudden death = Sanitation and disposal of dead birds

(6) Fowl pox = Pox virus = Small yellow blisters on comb and wattles and scab formation = Vaccination

(7) Haemorrhagic enteritis = Virus = One or more dead birds = Vaccination

(8) Infectious synovitis = Mycoplasma gallisepticum = Enlarged hocks, foot pads, lameness, breast blisters = Purchase clean stock

(9) Infectious sinusitis = Bacteria = Nasal discharge, swollen sinuses and coughing = Secure poults from disease free breeders

(10) Mycotoxicosis =Fungal origin = Haemorrhages, pale fatty liver and kidneys = Avoid feed spoilage

(11) New castle disease =Paramyxo virus = Gasping, wheezing, twisting of neck, paralysis, soft shelled eggs = Vaccination

(12) Paratyphoid = Salmonella pullorum = Diarrhea in poults = Prevention and flock sanitation

(13) Turkey coryza = Bordetella avium = Snicking, rales and discharge of excessive nasal mucus = Vaccination

(14) Coccidiosis = Coccidia spp = Bloody diarrhea and loss of weight = Proper sanitation and management of litter

(15) Turkey venereal disease = Mycoplasma meleagris = Lowered fertility and hatchability = Strict sanitation Vaccination Schedule

1) Day old = ND-B1 strain

2) 4th and 5th week =Fowl pox

3) 6th week = ND- (R2B)

4) 8-10 weeks = Cholera vaccine



The general management conditions remain more or less same as that for chicken. But due allowance should be given with regard to water, feeder and floor space to accommodate the size of birds. Due care should be taken at the time of brooding. As a rule of thumb turkey poults require, double the space compared to chicken. Turkey poults are also not self-reliant like chicken and hence should be guarded in the beginning. Poults need to be force-fed for the first few days. Feed must be kept under bright light. Sometimes it may be necessary to put coloured marbles in feed and water to attract the turkey poults. Temperament is usually nervous and hence turkeys get panicky at all stages of life. Therefore, due care must be taken to prevent heavy loss.

  • As readymade feed for turkey is not available in the market, readymade broiler feed is given, as turkeys need high protein diet.
  • The average feed requirement ranges 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. Nutrient requirement of turkeys differ from that of chicken. Turkeys require more of protein, mineral and vitamins than chicken to meet the fast growth. Turkey rations are costlier than chicken rations.


Nutrients = Age in weeks 0-4,4-8 , 8-12 , 12-16 , 16-20 , 20-24 , Adult

(A) Energy (Kcal/ kg) = 2800, 2900, 3000, 3100, 3200, 3300, 2900

(B) Crude protein (%) = 28 , 26 , 22 , 19 , 16 , 14 ,14

Poults give more trouble than chicken with respect to feeding. The sooner they are fed after hatching better it is. Turkey must always be fed on trough or hoppers and never on ground. The feed hoppers must never be overfilled to avoid wastage.


Turkey requires higher amount of protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals as compared to chicken. Nutrient = Age (weeks) = Breeding Hen 0 – 4 , 4 – 8 , 8 – 12 , 12 – 16 , 16 – 20 , 20 – 24

(A) ME (Kcal/kg) = 2800, 2900 , 3000 , 3100 , 3200 , 3300 = 2900

(B) Protein (%) = 28, 26 , 22 , 19 , 16.5 , 14 = 14

(C) Lysin (%) = 1.6, 1.5 , 1.3 , 1.0 , 0.80 , 0.65 , 0.60

(D) Methionine(%) = 0.55 , 0.45 , 0.40 , 0.35 , 0.25 , 0.25 =0.20

(E) Methionine = 1.05 , 0.95 , 0.80 , 0.65 , 0.55 , 0.45 = 0.40

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.


Turkeys are kept mainly for meat. Sexes can be separated by vent system of sexing at the time of hatching. Males are heavier than females. Mature males of all varieties have conspicuous black beards attached to the skin of the upper region. Dewbill or snood, a fleshy protuberance near the base of the beak, is relatively large, plump and elastic in males. It is relatively small, thin and non-elastic in females. Most of the modern turkeys have been selected for rapid growth and wide breast conformation. Under natural matings fertility is usually low and hence artificial insemination is commonly employed to obtain desired fertility levels. In natural mating, a male female ratio of 1:5 is desirable. The average age at first egg is around 30 weeks. Average egg production is around 100 eggs/hen turkey/year. Eggs of a normal turkey weigh around 70 g. Egg is noticeably pointed at one end with strong shell. Turkeys similar to chicken lay their eggs during the day time. When not needed for hatching turkey eggs can be used as human food. Eggs are palatable and nutritious as chicken eggs. Hatching period is 28 days. With proper care turkeys attain 4 kg body weight at about 12-14 weeks of age. Although body weight increases with advancement of age, feed efficiency is adversely affected. At 20-24 weeks of age they attain a body weight of 8 to 9 kg. Feed efficiency is naturally poor for small turkeys than large turkeys.


Turkeys can be reared under free range or intensive system.

Free range system of rearing

Advantages :-

  • It reduces the feed cost by fifty percent.
  • Low investment
  • Cost benefit ratio is high.

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 25gm 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 a month deworming and dipping is essential to improve the growth of the birds. Floor, feeder and water space requirement of turkeys: Age = Floor Space(Sq .Ft) = Feeder Space (cm) (Linear feeder) = Water Space (cm) (Linear water)

(A) 0-4 weeks = 1.25 = 2.5 = 1.5

(B) 5-16 weeks = 2.5 = 5.0 = 2.5

(C) 16-29 weeks = 4.0 = 6.5 = 2.5

(D) Turkey breeder = 5.0 = 7.5 = 2.5

Intensive system of rearing


  • Improved production efficiency.
  • Better management and disease control Housing :- Housing protects turkeys form sun, rain, wind, predators and provides comfort.
  • In hotter parts of the country the long axis of the house should run from east to west.
  • The distance between two houses should be at least 20 meters and the young stock house should be at least 50 to 100 meters away from the adult house.
  • The width of the open house should not exceed 9 meters.
  • The height of the house may vary from 2.6 to 3.3 meters from the floor to roof
  • An overhang of one meter should be provided to avoid the rainwater splash.
  • The floor of the houses should be cheap, durable and safe preferably concrete with moisture proof. 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, water and feeder space to accommodate the large bird



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.


(A) Age of laying= 24 – 28 weeks

(B) No. of eggs produced per year= 70 – 100

(C) Egg weight= 85 gm app.

(D) Incubation Period= 28 days

(E) Male female Ratio= 1 : 5

(F) No of chicks per female= 43 – 63


The mating behavior of 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 poults is expected form each breeder hen. Toms are rarely used for mating after first year due to reduced fertility. There is a tendency in toms to develop affinity towards a particular female, so we have to change the toms for every 15 days. Artificial insemination: The advantage of artificial insemination is to maintain high fertility from turkey flock through out the season.


  • The age of tom should be 32-36 weeks for semen collection.
  • The tom should be kept in isolation at least 15 days before semen collection.
  • The tom should be handled regularly and the time required to collect the semen is 2 minutes.
  • As the toms are sensitive to handling, the same operator should be used to get maximum volume of semen.
  • Average semen volume is 0.15 to 0.30ml.
  • Use the semen within one hour of collection.
  • Take the collection three times weekly or on alternative days.
  • Poultry:: Turkey:: Breeding Insemination in hens:-
  • Artificial insemination is done when the flock attains 8-10% egg production.
  • Inseminate the hens every three weeks with 0.025-0.030ml of undiluted semen.
  • After 12 weeks of the season it may be better to inseminate every fortnight.
  • Inseminate the hen after 5-6’ O clock in the evening.
  • The average fertility should be 80-85% over a 16 week breeding season.


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 poults.

(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: Group Temperature (degree F) Relative humidity (%) Setter 99.5 61-63 Hatcher 99.5 85-90 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 up to 5¬6 weeks. As a thumb rule the turkey poults need double hover space as compared to chicken. Brooding day old poults can be done using infra red bulbs or gas brooder and traditional brooding systems.


  • The floor space requirement for 0-4 weeks is 1.5 sq.ft. Per bird.
  • The brooder house should be made ready at least two days before the arrival of poults.
  • The litter material should be spread in a circular manner with a diameter of 2 meters.
  • Poult guard of atleast 1 feet height must be provided to prevent the poults from wandering away from source of heat.
  • Starting temperature is 95°F followed by weekly reduction of 5°F per week up to 4 weeks of age
  • Shallow water should be used. Turkeys are not the best starters in their life and will really need some tender loving care to get them safely through the first four weeks of life. The average mortality rate is 6-10% during this period. Young poults 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 poults. So special care has to be taken for supplying feed and water. 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 poults up to fifteen days and that will compensate the protein and energy requirements of the poults. Poults can be attracted to the feed by gentle tapping of the container with the fingers. Colored marbles or pebbles placed in feeders and water will also attract poults 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.


The common litter materials used for brooding are wood shavings saw dust, paddy husk, chopped saw etc. The thickness of the litter material should be 2 inch at the beginning and may be increased to 3-4 inch in course oftime by gradual addition. The litter should be raked at frequent intervals to prevent caking



Poults 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 is to prevent the head injuries from picking and fighting. At the day old the snood can be removed by shumbnail or finger pressure. At 3 weeks of age it can be cut off close to the head with sharp scissors.


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 turkey will start lay from the 30th week of age and its production period is 24 weeks from the point of lay. Under proper feeding and artificial lightening management turkey hens lay as much as 60-100 eggs annually. Nearly 70 percent of the eggs will be laid in the afternoon. The turkey eggs are tinted and weigh about 85 gm. Egg is noticeably pointed at one end with strong shell. The protein, lipid carbohydrate and mineral content of turkey egg are 13.1%, 11.8%, 1.7% and 0.8% respectively. The cholesterol is 15.67-23.97 mg/gm of yolk. .


Turkey meat has nutritional and sensorial properties which make it almost ideal raw material for rational and curative nutrition. People prefer turkey meat because of its leanest nature. The protein, fat, energy value of turkey meat is 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.


Turkeys of all age group can be easily driven from one place to another with the help of a stick. For catching turkeys a darkened room is best, wherein they can be picked up with both legs without any injury. However, mature turkeys should not be kept hanging for more than 3-4 minutes. 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.


The methods of feeding are mash feeding and pellet feeding.

  • The energy, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements for turkeys are high when compared to chicken.
  • Since the energy and protein requirements for the both sexes vary they must be reared separately for better results.
  • Feed should be given in feeders and not on the ground.
  • Whenever change is made from one diet to another it should be carried out gradually.
  • Turkeys require a constant and clean water supply at all times.
  • Provide more number of water during summer
  • Feed turkeys during the cooler parts of the day during summer.
  • Provide shell grit at the rate of 30-40gm per day per bird to avoid the leg weakness.


In intensive system, greens can be fed up to 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.


  • Artificial insemination is done when the flock attains 8-10% egg production.
  • Inseminate the hens every three weeks with 0.025-0.030 ml of undiluted semen.
  • After 12 weeks of the season it may be better to inseminate every fortnight.
  • Inseminate the hen after 5-6′ 0 clock in the evening.
  • The average fertility should be 80-85% over a 16 week breeding season.


The meat of turkey has nutritional and sensorial properties which make it almost ideal raw material for rational and curative nutrition. The turkey can produce 30gm of digestible protein from 100gm feed. The dressing percentage of turkey is 80-87%, which is highest of all farm species.

  • The body weight of tom and hen turkey at the 16th week is 7.26 kg and 5.53kg. This is optimum weight for marketing the turkeys.
  • The cumulative feed efficiency at the marketing should be 1:2.8 for toms and 1:2.7 for hens.


They are much more common in toms then in hens. They are believed to be caused by continuous irritation of the skin that covers the breastbone.


Feather picking is a mild form of cannibalism to which turkeys are addicted, especially during the growth period. It can be prevented almost completely by debeaking.


  • Avoiding overcrowding in confinement.
  • Feeding an adequate diet.