Turkey occupies an important position next to chicken, duck. Guinea fowl and quail in contributing the most evolving sector, which is playing a significant role in augmenting the economic and nutritional status of varied population. They form almost two percent of the total poultry population. They are reared for meat only and its meat is the leanest among other domestic avian species.
The turkey will start laying 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 turkeys 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 85gms. 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 15.67mg/gm-23.97mg/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 are 24%,6.6%, 162 Calories per 100gm 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.
The incubation period is 28 days in turkey. There are two methods of incubation. 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. The other method is artificial incubation where, eggs are hatched with the help of an incubator.
The 0 to four weeks period is called the brooding period. As a thumb rule the turkey poults need double hover space as compared to chicken. Brooding day-old poults can be done using charcoal stoves, pots, hand lanterns and bulds.
- The floor space requirement for 0 to four weeks is 1.5sq.ft. per bird.
- The brooder house should be made ready atleast two days before the arrival of poults.
- The litter material should be spread in a circular manner with a diameter of 2m.
- Poult guard of atleast 1ft height must be provided to prevent the poults from wandering away from source of heat.
- Starting temperature is 9500 F followed by weekly reduction of 500 F per week up to four weeks of age.