If you own chickens and/or turkeys, then it may have crossed your mind about keeping them together. Is this possible; are there any benefits to doing so or should it be strictly avoided? I decided to do some research into the topic. I would like to share my findings with you here today.
So, can you raise chickens and turkeys together? Yes, chickens and turkeys can be raised alongside one another. Some minor health issues may arise by raising two poultry types together. There are also some logistic factors to consider but otherwise, these birds can coexist peacefully in the same coop.
Most poultry species prefer to exist with their kind; in other words, chickens like the company of other chickens, turkeys prefer the company of other turkeys, and ducks prefer the company of, well, you might be able to guess.
That being said, you can, and many owners keep their chickens and turkeys together. Let us now take a closer look at how these individuals do so, along with some considerations to take into account if you were hoping to do the same!
Should You Raise Chickens And Turkeys Together?
Should you raise chickens and turkeys together? This is an excellent question, as while it may work for some owners and birds, it may not work out for everybody.
There are a few things you must factor in before contemplating keeping chickens and turkeys together.
Let’s look at some of the main factors to consider, and that you should ensure are in place before you attempt to introduce these two poultry types:
If you house turkeys in with chickens, you must account for the fact that turkeys are considerably larger than chickens. As a result, they will take up and require more space than what chickens on their own would.
Along similar lines, the feet of turkeys are larger than chickens so you will need a roosting stick wide enough for their feet.
In good weather conditions, turkeys prefer roosting outside than in the coop. While this is ideal logistically, consider that when the weather is not good, they must stay in the coop.
For this reason, you must account for their size, and the needs of your chickens when selecting or constructing a coop for them to live.
Turkeys and chickens require the same temperature in the brooder.
Although when chickens hatch out of the egg, they do so with more enthusiasm and aggression than turkeys. For this reason, the turkeys might get pecked on and trampled, which is of course, something you must avoid.
Feisty chickens are able to weaken a delicate baby turkey; and if they are able to do so, the turkey is less likely to thrive.
Erratic behavior aside, turkeys require a different diet to chickens.
There are particular types of feed for turkey chicks providing adequate amounts of protein to the baby turkey. Chick starter contains protein, but it is not sufficient for turkeys.
In the brooder, keep both turkeys and chicks separate as it is the turkeys that suffer in this situation.
Remember, both birds deserve equal chances of survival regardless of your preferences.
Blackhead disease is a significant worry for turkey and chicken farmers alike, and perhaps the one legitimate reason for housing chickens and turkeys separately.
The reason it is worrisome is that chickens and turkeys can transmit diseases to each other. The main, most common and prominent one is called blackhead disease.
This disease is caused by a protozoan (Histomonas Meleagridis ) that lives in a fecal worm egg.
When this worm is discharged by the infected poultry bird, through its feces, it can be consumed by another bird (either directly from the dropping or other means). One such example would be through an earthworm that consumed worm egg.
If conditions are suitable, the protozoan can live underground for anywhere up to three years. The threat of this disease resurfacing is always present.
Chickens are not as susceptible to blackhead disease as turkeys and are more likely to suffer only minor sickness, but some will die.
However, if turkeys contract this disease, they do not survive.
Chickens are carriers and can pass it to their own flock as well as the turkey flock, and it will be the turkeys that suffer the most.
An entire farm can be infected with blackhead disease, and the only way to get rid of it is by removing the poultry and waiting for the three years to be sure it has died away.
Even after three years, the threat of this disease is always present, as wild birds can also transmit the disease.
We have looked at how keeping chickens and turkeys together can go wrong, but in the following section, let’s explore the best way to keep chickens and turkeys together.
How To Raise Chickens And Turkeys Together
As mentioned above the biggest threat to you and your flock is blackhead disease. Thankfully, the other issues are minor and easy to solve.
If you are contemplating raising chickens and turkeys together, you will undoubtedly get people trying to dissuade you from doing so.
People fear that these two types of birds won’t get along; however, chickens and turkeys often get along quite well.
Compared to chickens, turkeys are very calm. While they are bigger birds that are heavier on their feet, they are often said to be more “zen” compared to chickens. It is often stated among chicken and turkey keepers, that turkeys often mediate pecking fights among chickens whenever they occur.
We looked at how turkeys take up a lot more room in the coop than chickens as they are a bigger bird, so you must consider the size of your coop, as well as the width of the roosting stick.
In the brooder, keep turkey chicks separate from baby chickens as chickens can be aggressive towards the turkeys when they first emerge from their egg.
On the subject of blackhead disease, you must research the disease before you consider keeping poultry birds together.
Ask your local vet about the probability of the disease occurring in the area.
If you already have chickens and thinking about adding turkeys to your property, be aware that chickens cannot transmit blackhead to turkeys if they do not have it in the first place.
It is wise to keep a closed flock and only purchase day-old chicks from certified disease-free brooders.
As previously mentioned, chickens can be carriers with no visible symptoms of the disease, so don’t take in rescue chickens or any free chickens.
If there was blackhead on your property with the previous flock, wait three years before you get any type of poultry as this disease can be passed through cecal worm eggs.
Chickens and turkeys can live together, and they can indeed coexist quite peacefully. However, as an owner you will need to take into account some considerations.
Raising these two types of poultry birds together can be rewarding and fun, and turkeys can be a good influence over contentious, feisty chickens.
Blackhead is understandably a significant worry for anyone hoping to raise poultry birds.
Still, if you do your research. seek the right advice and set up an appropriate environment, you will know how to approach this possibility with more confidence and with a greater chance of success.
A turkey can mate with a chicken. The result is a turkey/chicken hybrid. However, turkeys and chickens will primarily attempt to mate with their own genus and not interbreed with one another. If turkeys and chickens are kept together and there are no appropriate mates, it is a possibility and something to be aware of an owner.
The main symptoms of blackhead disease are decreased appetite, an increased thirst, a dark discoloration of the head, wet/yellowish stools, general malaise and weakness, drowsiness, and ruffled feathers in your birds. If you notice any of these symptoms in either your chickens or your turkeys, you should contact a vet at the earliest opportunity.
Adding acidified copper sulfate to the drinking water of your birds has been recommended to prevent parasites, worms, and other organisms that can cause illness and blackhead disease. However, it is best to consult with your vet about the practical ways to prevent these issues in your flock. Always consult with a specialist and authority in bird-keeping who is an expert in preventing such illnesses.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.