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What’s important for turkeys?

  • Strong legs: Commercial turkeys are the largest birds that enter the food system, so the weight of these birds needs to be supported by strong legs to ensure proper growth and development.
  • Disease prevention: Diseases cause birds to lose productivity. Therefore, it is imperative to protect them using an integrated approach that includes both vaccinations and natural feed ingredients. A loss in productivity means that less meat is produced and, as a result, a smaller profit is made by producers.
  • Feed efficiency: Turkeys grow to be very large and consume many pounds of feed in their lifetimes. Feed efficiency is related to how effectively the turkeys turn animal feed into human food (i.e., turkey meat). Good feed efficiency is important for maintaining a profitable production system.
  • Poult quality: Poults are young turkeys. Poults have weak immune systems because they are young and not fully developed, so focusing on good poult quality will give them a better opportunity to thrive. Genetics, nutrition and environmental conditions are three key factors that can affect poult quality.

Common challenges

  • Histomoniasis (blackhead disease): Blackhead disease is caused by the protozoa Histomonas meleagridis, which are tiny, single-celled organisms that are spread to the bird via the roundworm Heterakis gallinarum.
  • Coccidiosis: This is a common disease in poultry caused by an invasion of protozoa (Eimeria or Iospora) in the intestine. Coccidiosis is usually identified by inflammation of the intestine, lesions, diarrhea, weight loss and/or sometimes even death.
  • Leg issues and lameness: Leg issues can occur when turkeys gain weight too quickly or do not have access to the proper nutrition to maintain the weight they have gained. Lameness is typically caused by Mycoplasma infection, which can be transmitted in several ways, including through the air, through the egg and through mating. In most cases, Mycoplasma causes swollen leg joints and can also lead to respiratory disease. Lameness usually occurs when there are leg issues, causing turkeys to have trouble walking, which also prevents them from accessing water and feed.
  • Mortality: Turkeys live longer lives than most other poultry species, so death is always a potential challenge, since, over those longer lives, they are exposed to more threats.
  • Aggression: Turkeys typically become aggressive as they reach sexual maturity. Aggression can cause birds to peck at one another, sometimes leading to cannibalistic pecking and injuries.
  • High FCR, low feed intake and low weight gain: These are performance measurements that are monitored to ensure the health and profitability of the flock.

Tips for maximizing health and performance

  • Provide antioxidants and minerals that are better absorbed in order to increase turkeys’ mineral reserves.
  • Establish a program that helps prevent and reduce the incidence of disease.
  • Incorporate a multi-enzyme into the turkeys’ diet to help optimize nutrient absorption and protein breakdown.