Dr. G Sujatha 

Assistant Director, Govt. Turkey Farm, Kureeppuzha, Kollam 691601, Kerala

Cell Phone: 9447805545, E-mail: sujathamuraly@gmail.com

Turkey is a gallinaceous bird and is a native of North America. Turkey farming is very common in western countries whereas  in India it is in infancy. Turkey is reared for meat only and its meat is the leanest among other domestic avian species.

Turkey rearing:-Special features:

  1. Low investment
  2. High feed conversion efficiency-30 grams of meat from 100 grams of feed
  3. Meat with low cholesterol and high protein
  4. Better disease tolerance
  5. Can be reared in deep litter system, free range system and also in backyard system.
  6. Best converters of bio waste to meat.
  7. Dressing percentage is 80 to 85%


Many varieties are available based on their size, body contour, plumage colour. There are three varieties of turkey commonly available in India.

7125979643_7beaa13ac2_zBroad breasted white: Plumage colour is white, better heat tolerance, suitable for Indian-agro economic conditions. Attains 10-12kg body weight at the age of 7-8 months. Marketable age male: 28-30 weeks, Female: 18-20 weeks.


Broad breasted bronze: plumage colour is black. Heavier thanrBroad Breasted white. Most popular variety, bronzeMarketable age: 23-26 weeks. Adult body weight: Male; not less than 24 kg, female: not less than 18 kg.



Belts Ville small white: Resembles broad breasted white in colour and shape but smaller in size. Adult bird weighs Beltsville_Small_Whiteonly 3-3.5kg. Marketable age 15-16 weeks.Egg production and hatchability higher and broodiness lower than heavy varieties.


Body Characteristics:

Similar to chicken.  Male and female can be differentiated at the age of 3-4 months. Male turkey is called a Tom Large_White_turkey_female220px-Large_White_turkey_male
and a female is  a Hen.

Males are heavier than females. In males pink or red fleshy protuberances called caruncles appear on the head at the age of 1-1.5 months. A fleshy area that grows from the forehead over the bill is called snood or dewbill. It is relatively large pendulous and elastic in males. Dewlap or Wattles is a fleshy growth under the throat which appears at the age of 1-1.1.5 months and is large and fleshy in males. Males strut even at day old and continue throughout the life.

In females, dewbill or snood is relatively small, thin and non-elastic. Caruncles absent. Dewlap/wattle is very small and thin. The peculiar sound produced by turkey is known as gobbling.

Turkey egg:

Turkey eggTurkey will start lay eggs from 30th weeks of age and its production period is 24 weeks from the point of lay. Average egg production is around if 60-120 eggs per year. Turkey eggs are tinted and weigh about 80-85 grams. 70% of eggs will be laid in the afternoon. Hatching period is 28 days.

Turkey eggs can be hatched by

  1. Natural incubation with broody hen turkey (10-15 eggs can be hatched)
  2. Artificial incubation with incubators.
  3. When small number of eggs are involved a broody hen will be more suitable for setting eggs. Such a hen can accommodate 6-8 eggs.

For breeding purposes the male female ratio is 1:5 (Male can be used for breeding at the age of one year)


It is better to feed and water poults (young turkey) within 24 hours of hatching. If all mash feeding is practiced, one-day-old-turkey-poults-at-feeder1starter mash (0 to 8 weeks) should contain 28-29 % protein, Grower mash (8-16 weeks) should contain 20% protein and adult mash (above 16 weeks) should contain 16-18% protein.

Chicken feed can be converted to turkey feed

  1. Starter: 82 kg poultry chick starter –plus 8 kg fish meal –plus t10 kg ground nut cake.
  2. Grower: 88 kg poultry grower mash plus 5 kg fish meal plus 7 kg of ground nut cake.
  3. Breeder: 97kg of poultry layer mash plus 3 kg of fish meal.

Feeding of young turkeys from day old to 2 months is the most important and critical period. Boiled egg yolk is taken and powdered. Then add small onions, mix well and give. Papaya leaves (tender leaves), Kudangal, Subabul can also be mixed with this.

Feed additives for 10 poults   
Additives3-15 (days)16-30 (days)31-45 (days)
Onion (Gms.)200 400600

(After 2 weeks, whole eggs can be given.)

After 2 months, mash can be given completely. Ample green feed should be fed to maintain a high Vitamin A & Vitamin E level. Allow free choice of limestone grit / shell grit. To avoid leg weakness and lameness, calcium supplements should be given. 10% feed can be substituted with vegetable waste to reduce feed cost.

Feed Consumption/day

Age (days)Feed (gms,)
>180275 (Male)
225 (Female)


Management of young poult (Brooding):

0-4 week’s period is called brooding period. Artificial light and warmth are provided to the poults using heating equipment. The floor space requirement in the brooder is 1.5 sq. ft. / bird. The litter material should be spread in a circular manner with a diameter of 2 metres and a thickness of 2 inches. Poultguard of at least 1 foot height must be provided to prevent the poults from wandering away from the source of heat. Provide at least 2 watts / poult. Shallow waterers should be used. Waterer with a capacity of 3 litres is sufficient for 50 poults.

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. Milk should be fed at the rate of 100 ml / litre of drinking water and one boiled egg per 10 poults up to 15 days to compensate protein and energy requirements of the poults.


Rearing of turkey:

Turkey can be reared under intensive system, semi-intensive system and free range system.

  1. Intensive system: Birds can be reared in deep litter system as that of chicken. Each adult female bird requires Intensive
    4sq.ft and male requires 5-6sq.ft of floor space. Feed has to be given according to the daily requirement. To reduce the quantity of concentrates, green grass can be fed at the rate of 100gms/day/bird. Litter height of 9” to 12” is absolutely essential. Advantages: Improved production efficiency. Better management and disease control.
  2. Semi-intensive system: a shed and an open space have to be provided. In the shed, three sq.ft per bird and in the open space 15sq.ft may be provided. Feeding practices same as that of intensive system.free-range
  3. Free range system: Also called as rearing turkey in homestead or backyard system of rearing. A maximum of10-12 birds can be reared in this system. They should have facility to pick up grass, weeds, fallen grains or fruits as part of their feed in homestead. The table left over and kitchen waste can be fed.

In the free range system, in one acre of fenced land we can rear 200-250 adult turkeys. Shelter should be provided during nights at the rate of 3-4sq.ft per bird. Calcium should be supplemented at the rate of 250 gms. per week per bird to avoid leg weakness. Advantages: Reduces cost of feeding by 50%. Low investment, cost benefit ratio is high.


turkey-image-00Economic parameters in Turkey farming:

Average Egg weight85 gms.
Average weight of day old poult 50 gms.
Age at sexual maturity30 weeks
Average Egg production 60-120 / year
Incubation period28 days
Average body weight @ 20 weeks7.0-8 Kg. (Male) / 4.5-5 Kg. (Female)
Marketable Age14-15 weeks (Male) / 17-18 weeks (Female)
Marketable weight7.5 Kg. (Male) / 5.5 Kg. (Female)
Feed conversion efficiency2.7-2.8 Kg.
Average feed consumption up to marketable age24-26 Kg. (Male) / 17-19 Kg. (Female)
Mortality during brooding period3-4%
Male : Female ratio1:5





Common Diseases:Turkey-diseases



Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD)Mycoplasma gallisepticumCoughing, gurgling, sneezing, nasal exudatesSecure Mycoplasma free stock
Fowl choleraPasteurella multocedaPurplish head, greenish yellow droppings, sudden deathVaccination, sanitation and disposal of dead birds
Fowl poxPox virusSmall yellow blisters on comb and wattles, and scab formationVaccination
New Castle diseaseParamyxovirusGasping, wheezing, twisting of neck, paralysis and soft shelled eggsVaccination
MycotoxicosisFungal originHemorrhages, pale fatty liverAvoid feed spoilage
ParatyphoidSalmonella pullorumDiarrhoea in poults, early poult mortalityScreening of parent stock and flock sanitation
CoccidiosisCoccidia spp.Bloody diarrhoea and loss of weightProper sanitation and management of litter




Vaccination schedule:vaccination

Day oldNew Castle disease: B1 strain
4th -5th weekFowl pox
6th weekNew Castle disease: R2B
8th - 10th weekFowl cholera vaccine



Availability of Turkey eggs/poults

  1. University poultry farm (KVASU, Mannuthy Thrissur)
  2. District Turkey farm, Kureepuzha, Kollam, Ph No: 0474-2799222
  3. Nandanam, Poultry Research Centre, Nandanam,  Chennai


Price of Turkey at District Turkey Farm, Kollam

Table Egg₹ 5.0
Hatching Egg₹ 25.0
Turkey 0-3 days₹ 60.0
Turkey 4 days -1month₹ 148.0
Turkey 1-2 months₹ 180.0
Turkey 2-3 months₹ 230.0
Turkey 3-4 months₹ 330.0
Turkey 4-5 months₹ 500.0
Turkey 5-6 months₹ 750.0
Turkey 6-7 months₹ 800.0
Turkey 7-8 months₹ 850.0
Turkey 8-9 months₹ 950.0
Turkey Male above 3 months₹ 125.0 / Kg. Body weight
Culled birds (Live)₹ 100.0 / Kg. Body weight



There is considerable scope for turkey rearing in India as turkey can be reared in free range system or semi intensive system. Free range system requires low investment in facilities and equipment. Turkey rearing is viable and sustainable both for backyard and commercial venture in economic point of view.


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