You have probably been told or heard somewhere that you should not keep chickens and turkeys together. But is this conclusion really balanced? Is it okay to keep chickens and turkeys together? Let us find out.
Can you keep chickens and turkeys together?
Yes, these two species of poultry will live together. However, the success of this mixed flocking is dependent on some factors. One of these factors is the absence of blackhead disease amongst the chickens. Apart from that, poults are pretty sensitive, and they need special provisions for survival.
As you may have realized, there is more to keeping chickens and turkeys together. So, in the rest of this article, we give you the lowdown.
Can You Keep Chickens and Turkeys Together?
Yes, you can. Keeping a mixed flock of chickens and turkeys comes with its benefits. But it is not without potential downsides, too.
Benefits of Keeping Chickens and Turkeys Together
Turkeys are generally calmer than chickens. So, you do not have to be as concerned that these two bird species squabble.
But beyond that, turkeys, especially turkey hens, typically act as peacekeepers in a mixed flock. Turkey hens have been seen acting as mediators and putting an end to fights.
In fact, if you have a wayward rooster in the group, the turkeys might just get it in order. Understandably so, turkeys are generally larger than chickens, and that massive size sends enough of a message.
Besides bringing some peace to the flock, turkeys are better at detecting the presence of a predator than chickens. When there is danger, the turkeys will make their loud call, and all the other birds will run for cover.
If you ever add young birds to the coop, the turkeys can act as surrogate mothers to them.
Besides, adding turkeys to the coop offers some diversity. For one, you get to enjoy chicken eggs and turkey eggs.
Potential Downsides of Keeping Chickens and Turkeys Together
You can keep chickens and turkeys together. However, you must be wary of the disease called Histomoniasis.
Histomoniasis may also be called blackhead disease. It is a disease caused by a parasite known as Histomonas meleagridis. The parasite lives in infected worms and can affect both chickens and turkeys.
Why is blackhead disease an issue? Well, when chickens ingest those worms, they typically become carriers. Although, sometimes, they suffer symptoms of the infection.
Turkeys, on the other hand, are more susceptible to the disease. They almost always show signs of the disease, and about 70 to 100% of them may die. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this disease.
Since chickens may have blackhead disease without showing symptoms, you might be introducing the turkeys to their death without knowing it. Blackhead disease occurs regionally.
So, if your chicken carries the parasite, then other birds within that same region can get the parasite too.
Given optimal conditions, the parasite can survive in the ground for up to three years. So, it is not an easy one to get rid of.
To avoid the blackhead disease issue, contact your state or local poultry veterinarian. The vet will let you know if there is blackhead disease in your area.
Also, when buying your chicken, ensure you ask questions. Ensure the chickens come from a region with no cases of blackhead disease.
Considerations for Keeping Chickens and Turkeys Together
The living conditions you provide when keeping only chickens or turkeys will differ from what you will provide when keeping them together.
Coop and Roost Size
One of the first things you must consider is the size of the coop. Chickens are not as big as turkeys. So, the pen must be one that can accommodate the size of both types of birds.
In line with this, you should also provide thicker roosts for the turkeys since a chicken-sized roost may not be sufficient for their size.
You should also ensure the door to the coop is close to the ground. The door should not come with a kick plate too. Turkeys cannot fly as well as chickens. So, any elevation to the door might be a hindrance to them.
Depending on your reason for keeping birds, their diets may differ. Since turkeys are usually bred for meat, their feeds are generally high in protein to sustain growth and make them heavier.
However, if you are keeping the turkey for ornamental purposes, regular chicken feeds will do.
Laying hens do not need high-protein meals like turkeys. But they need calcium and other minerals that facilitate the formation of healthy eggshells and support laying.
Meat chickens thrive on diets with protein levels between that of a turkey and a laying hen. If you feed chickens like Cornish crosses the high-protein diet of a turkey, they will grow way too fast.
This should be a good thing, but it is not. Rapid growth in these types of chickens will adversely affect their heart, lungs, and skeletons.
Chicks and Poults
While chickens and turkeys can live together, you should keep their offspring away from each other. Chicks, like their parents, are more active and restless than poults. Poults, on the other hand, are sensitive and calm.
So, if you keep chicks and poults around each other, the chicks may bully and injure the poults.
Apart from that, the ideal diet for chicks differs from what is suitable for poults. Poults need high-protein diets (about 24-30% protein) for them to thrive. If they do not get enough protein, they may suffer angel wing and other similar diseases. Chicks would do simply fine with 18-20% protein.
Once the chicks and poults become adults, there should be no problem integrating them if other conditions are met.
Can Turkey Eggs Hatch Under a Broody Chicken?
Yes, they can. If you have a broody hen, you can place some turkey eggs under her until they hatch. This works because chicken eggs and turkey eggs incubate at the same temperature (about 99 degrees Fahrenheit).
However, the broody hen may have to sit on the turkey eggs longer than she typically does. While the average chicken egg hatches within 21 days, turkey eggs hatch in 28 days.
Can Chicken Eggs Hatch Under a Broody Turkey?
Yes, they can. As with turkey eggs under broody chickens, chicken eggs have been successfully hatched under broody turkeys.
You can keep chickens and turkeys together if you provide the right conditions. This mixed flocking comes with many benefits, but there is one major issue – blackhead disease.
In the absence of blackhead disease, there should be no other potentially horrible occurrence to prevent you from keeping both types of birds together. While chickens and turkeys can be kept together, chicks and poults should be kept separately.