The best feed for young turkeys and ducks is yelks of hard-boiled eggs, and after they are several days old the white may be added. Continue this for two or three weeks, occasionally chopping onions fine and sometimes sprinkling the boiled eggs with black pepper; then give rice, a teacupful with enough milk to just cover it, and boil slowly until the milk is evaporated. Put in enough more to cover the rice again, so that when boiled down the second time it will be soft if pressed between the fingers. Milk must not be used too freely, as it will get too soft and the grains will adhere together. Stir frequently when boiling. Do not use water with the rice, as it forms a paste and the chicks cannot swallow it. In cold, damp weather, a half teaspoonful of Cayenne pepper in a pint of flour, with lard enough to make it stick together, will protect them from diarrhea. This amount of food is sufficient for two meals for seventy-five chicks. Give all food in shallow tin pans. Water and boiled milk, with a little lime water in each occasionally, is the best drink until the chicks are two or three months old, when loppered and buttermilk may take the place of the boiled milk.
Turkeys like best to roost on trees, and in their place artificial roots may be made by planting long forked locust poles and laying others across the forks. - American Agriculturist.
Keep the turkey hens tame by feeding them close to the house. Have two or three barrels in sheltered corners containing plenty of straw or leaves for them to lay in. Gather the eggs every evening, as turkey eggs are very easily chilled. Keep the eggs in a woolen cloth on end and turn them every three days. Set the first seven eggs under a chicken hen, as they get too old before the turkey hen will go to sitting. Make a board pen ten or twelve feet square and twelve or fourteen inches high. Put a coop in it and put your hen and turkeys in it. Feed the hen with corn and the turkeys soaked wheat bread (corn meal will kill them), until they are a week old (I feed five or six times a day). Then feed wheat until they are big enough to eat corn. Give plenty of fresh water in a shallow vessel. Keep the mother in the pen until they are large enough to fly over the top of the boards. Let them out awhile about the middle of the day. Shut them in at night. A turkey hen does not like to be shut up, but have a good big coop for her and she will go in. Don't let the little turkeys get their backs wet until they are feathered. The turkey hen will sit down when night comes just where she happens to be, but if you drive her home a few times she will come herself after that.
Always feed them when they come home, no matter if they are full of "hoppers." Have your No. 2 pen in the orchard under an apple tree where it is shady. Have the turkey hen's pen close to the chicken hen's pen, so that when the chicken hen weans her turkeys, they will soon learn to go with the turkey hen. Give them a dose of black pepper in their feed every cold rain. And never, no never, get excited and in a hurry while working with turkeys if you don't want them to get wild and fly all over the plantation. Three or four weeks before selling, feed all the corn they will eat.
Restrain your desire to count your young turkeys, and let them alone for twenty-four hours after they get into this world. Remove them to a clean, airy, roomy coop, and give them boiled eggs, stale wheat bread crumbs just moistened with milk or water, "Dutch" cheese, or a mixture of all these.
For the first two weeks feed entirely with the eggs, bread, curds, cooked rice and cooked oatmeal. About the third week commence feeding cooked cornmeal; and from that on they may have any cooked food that would be suitable for chickens of the same age. Season all food slightly with salt and pepper, and twice a week add a level tablespoonful of bone meal to a pint of feed. Never feed any sour food or sloppy food of any kind, except sour milk, and never feed any uncooked food of any kind until after they have thrown out the red on their heads. Feed often, five or six times a day, until after they are three months old; then, if insects are numerous, you may gradually reduce the number of meals per day to three or even two.
After they are three months old they may be given wheat, cracked corn, etc., but not whole corn until they are five months old. Keep the coops dry and clean, and the turkeys out of the dew and rain until they are fully feathered, and have thrown out the red. Dampness and filth will kill young turkeys as surely as a dose of poison. For the first few days confine the poults to the limits of the coop and safety run; then, if all appear strong and well, give the mother hen and her brood liberty on pleasant days after the dew is off.
If they get caught out in a shower, get them to shelter as soon as possible; and if they are chilled take them to the house and thoroughly dry and warm them. See that the little turkeys come home every night. The turkey mother must, for the first few nights, be hunted up and driven home. After they are three months old, turkeys are quite hardy, and may be allowed range at all times. If turkeys that are well cared for, and have always seemed all right, show signs of drooping when about six weeks or two months old, give Douglas mixture in the drink or food, and add a little cooked meat to the food once a day. - The Practical Farmer.
For an ordinary place, select from a good breed (I prefer the bronze) a large gobbler and two or three hens. As soon as the warm weather comes, place about the barn in sheltered places two or three barrels on their sides, and in them make nice nests. In these the hens will lay. Gather the eggs every day, keeping them in a cool place. When a box contains 23 eggs mark it No. 1 and begin to fill a second box, and when it contains 23 eggs mark it No. 2 and so continue. It is well to leave turkey hens on the nest two or three days, for they often lay one or two eggs after they begin to show signs of sitting.
When you have decided to sit a hen, give her a good nest and 15 eggs and at the same time give a common hen eight eggs. These, when hatched, are all to be given to the turkey hen. Never try to raise turkeys with a domestic fowl. If you have no place free of grass, you can start turkeys with difficulty. Feeding is of the greatest importance. For the first week I have found wheat bread moistened in water the most satisfactory. If you can feed them by sunrise for the first three or four weeks, you need lose hardly a bird. Each evening try and call them nearer and nearer home, so that you will not be troubled with their wandering to the neighbors'. As early as possible train them to roost high, so as to be out of danger at night. Bird dogs are often very destructive to turkeys, at times destroying a whole flock in a single night. Fatten with corn. The turkey crop ought to be one of the most profitable on our farms.
Dr. G.G. Groff.
Turkeys want care, especially for the first two or three weeks. I feed graham and wheat bread, made by scalding the flour, making a very stiff dough, and baking in a hot oven; soak over night in cold water. I also give them plenty of young onions, cutting them up with scissors. Be careful not to let young turkeys out in the morning while the grass is wet. After the birds are two weeks old I feed wheat, but no corn until they are about a month old. I like hen mothers best, for turkey mothers are rangers, and do not take kindly to being kept in a coop. The bread will keep a week if made right, but do not soak more than will be wanted in a day, as it soon sours. I feed scraps from the table, such as potatoes and bits of meat cut very fine, but not much of the latter to young birds. I rarely lose a bird. - Mrs. E. Reith, in Homestead.
In turkey raising the one who is the most careful and attentive to the small things is the most successful. The first laying of eggs should be set under a chicken hen. The turkey hen will, after a few days' confinement, lay another batch of eggs. A good-sized hen will cover and care for ten eggs; a turkey hen, seventeen. Make a large, roomy nest of soft, fine hay - straw is too brittle and slippery. If there is danger of lice in the nest-box, sprinkle with water in which carbolic acid has been mixed in the proportion of eight drops to a half gallon of water. Don't wet the eggs with this. After the eggs have been sat on one week, sprinkle with warm water every other day, until the last week; then every day, until they hatch. Have the water clear, and use a flower or fine rose sprinkler. Let the water be of the same temperature as the eggs, which can be ascertained by slipping a thermometer under the hen for a few minutes. This softens the shells, and as a little turkey is very weak, it is helped out easily, and is stronger than if working long to get out.
Let the little turkeys get well dried and strong enough to climb around the edges of their nest before taking them off. Have a pen, say six feet square, built for them, and made tight at the sides clear down to the ground, to keep them from getting out and being chilled. Put sand and fine gravel over the ground, and cover enough of it to afford shelter at night and when it rains. They may be kept in this pen the first four or five days, then let out after dew is off, and shut up before night.
For the first few days' feed, nothing is better than clabber cheese or curd made by scalding clabbered milk until the curd separates and is cooked, then skimmed out and fed. Mix a little black pepper with this every other day. Meal must not be fed raw for several weeks, and then should be mixed with sour milk instead of water. Bake the meal into bread by mixing it, unsifted, with sour milk, and adding a little soda and pepper. Spinach, lettuce, onion tops and any other tender greens, chopped fine, are excellent food. From the time a turkey is hatched until it is ready for market it should have plenty of milk. Give them clear water to drink, for milk is a food. See that the very young ones have milk and water in quite shallow dishes, for they are in danger of getting wet if the dish is deep.
Gather The Little Turkeys In at the first signs of rain, and they will soon learn to run and fly to their coop at the first drops. Always shut them up at night, for they are early risers and will be out long before the dew is dried off. Don't pen them too near the house. Feed them at or near the same place all the time and they will learn to go there when hungry. Give them a good feed at night and they will remember to come home for it. If the morning is dry, feed lightly and let them hunt the rest in the orchard and fields. Keep the grass and weeds mowed around their pen and feeding places. Mix slaked lime in the dust for them to take their dust bath in, and sprinkle the carbolic acid and water over and around their roosting pen. Keep pails and kettles covered, for they will get drowned if they have half a chance, as they begin to fly so young. Of course a turkey hen will take her young off, and care for them after a fashion, but the safest way to make them tame is to raise them where they may be cared for. Even if the turkey hen hatches her last batch of eggs, it is a good plan to have a hen ready to take the little turkeys and slip them away at night. If she still stays on her nest give her 20 or 25 hen's eggs, and if she hatches them let her run with the chickens.
They Are Not So Tender Or So Easily Led Astray As Turkeys Are, Nor As Valuable
Mrs. Jas. R. Hinds, in Orange Judd Farmer.