Turkeys aren’t just raised for the holidays any more. It is a lean animal protein that people are choosing to eat more often as an alternative to red meats. This means knowing how to start a turkey farm could be a profitable business venture for you to begin. Raising turkeys isn’t the easiest job there is, but it can be a rewarding one. Here’s how you’re going to get started.
1. Secure the land you’ll need.
Turkeys are large birds. To create a product that people will want to eat, you’ll need to give these birds some room to roam. You’ll also need a place for them to roost, equipment to help raise turkey chicks, and access to feed to supplement their grazing diet. If you don’t have land already, then you may need to lease some. Check zoning requirements before putting your turkeys on the land to keep your business venture legal.
2. Make sure you’re licensed and insured.
Some turkey farms may need to have special business licenses. If you plan on selling turkey meat yourself, you’ll need health inspections and certificates. Even though it is a food product, you may also be required to collect sales tax. Your insurance policy should cover the birds, your land, your medical needs, and unintended injuries of people who come onto your property. Your birds might escape too and you’ll want to be covered for the damages that they might cause.
3. Bring in the turkeys.
Once you have secured your facilities, it is time to bring in the baby birds. It’s easier to care for the baby turkeys and bring them into adulthood instead of trying to transfer adult birds to your land. The turkeys you raise will be less likely to escape. For roosting, a general rule of thumb is that you’re going to need about 1 square foot of space for every bird that you’re raising.
4. Find a local veterinarian.
When you purchase turkey feed, there are generally antibiotics included in it. If you’re trying to raise organic turkeys, then this feed option is not usually possible. You’ll need a veterinarian on hand should your birds get sick so you can limit the damage an illness can cause. All it takes is one outbreak of avian flu for an entire flock of turkeys to be quarantined and destroyed to limit its spread.
5. You’ll also need to find a butcher.
Unless you plan on butchering the turkeys yourself when they’ve reached the right age, you’ll need to form a relationship with a local butcher. Taking the feathers off and dressing them can be time consuming. It really is worth the money to hire a good butcher, especially if you plan on having several dozen birds butchered at a time.
6. Be prepared for plenty of chores.
Turkeys thrive in conditions that are clean and without drafts. You’ll need to be cleaning out the roosts at least once per day in most instances, especially if you’re raising a lot of birds. It generally takes at least 22 weeks for the birds to be large enough to be profitable, so you’ll be cleaning out a lot of cages, a lot of roosts, and preventing a lot of drafts to keep those birds healthy.
7. Having options available for transporting the birds.
Most butchers aren’t going to pick up the turkeys for you. This means you’ll need to bring them to the place where they’ll be dressed. Since this can be several miles away, it is a best practice to have cages on hand to place the turkeys in for transport. You’ll need a truck or need to rent or lease a truck for this process.
Do not let the birds roam free while transporting them. This can cause injuries to the birds that could affect the quality of the meat. An accident could even cause the birds to die while in transport and that may make then unsuitable for dressing.
8. Repeat the process every season.
Because it takes up to 28 weeks for the turkeys to mature, you’ve got a few options available to you to create a chain of profitability. It is not uncommon for a turkey farm to raise one flock at a time when they’re first getting started. When the mature birds are off to get dressed, they’ll bring in more little ones. Two flocks of turkeys can be raised per year with this method. Starting a ladder is the most profitable option. Every 2-3 weeks, start another batch of turkey poultlets. That way at Week 28, you’ll be making 1-2 trips to the butcher shop every month.
9. Look for sellers.
Most local stores will accept local meat products on consignment. You might also talk to processors about creating sausage, ground turkey, turkey hamburgers, and other food products to sell. Turkey jerky is a real winner. Sell those turkeys to make your money and you’ll have completed the process.
Knowing how to start a turkey farm is pretty basic in concept, but the work involved is comprehensive. Follow these steps and you will be able to be successful.