The turkey fowl is a common poultry bird in Nigeria, usually locally raised at homes. It is reared for its meat and eggs. According to government reports, Nigeria is not producing poultry meat or any other meat for that matter satisfactorily enough for its consumption. The situation is so desperate frozen fowl meat is being imported into the country from Benin Republic legally and illegally. The government past and present introduced a ban on foreign meat (especially turkey) challenging local turkey rearing farmers to match the demand for the gargantuan appetite.
Because of the incredible ‘high demand’ for turkey meat across the country, venturing into the turkey rearing business is fetching yourself a lot in profits. And the best part is you can start with as little as N40,000 (NGN).
The turkey rearing model in this article is meant for simple rearing of the birds in a backyard setting, where the objective is to fatten them for a period of time and then sell them when they have reached market size. Suitable for up to fifty turkeys and as little as five depending on your space and not for hundreds of turkey birds as it is in a poultry farm.
So, we are going to proceed with all calculations based on ten turkeys, you can multiply or divide up the total sum of capital needed according to your requirements.
Where To Buy Turkey
You can easily obtain your first assemblage of turkeys from your neighborhood or in a local farm near you. Watch out closely for those with defects, their defects are quiet visible and easy to discern.
Disregard any bird with a form of discoloration in the caruncles (the fleshy protuberance on the head and around the neck) or having a deformed beak, or with swollen caruncles, blisters on the head or any part of the body and so on.
Turkey Rearing Requirements
Turkey rearing is fairly easy compared to other birds and advantageous as they are highly resistant to diseases and they exhibit a low mortality rate once they have grown past their infancy stage (0 – 4 weeks) also known as brooding. They could be raised in a free-range setting, that is letting them out from their cage to an open surrounding area and there is the semi-intensive, where they are kept in a cage/room throughout the rearing process. The first system is very economical as they could fend for themselves most of their dietary needs but the latter system enables them to grow faster and bigger because of the attention they will get.
I suggest you start with the 4-5 weeks old turkeys those past their brooding stage (or else contact other sources for a more elaborate insight on the topic), they are easily recognized by the red combs protruding from their heads at that stage.
Key Fundamental Subject Matters In Turkey Rearing
There are numerous varieties of turkey but there is not much difference between them, some are good at egg production and others meat. We won’t be bothering ourselves with hybrids since they require an intensive farming system. The male turkey known as ‘toms’ are much heavier than their female counterparts known as ‘hens’ and hence the former fetches higher earnings in the market. To achieve higher productivity separate the toms from the hens in the cage.
Provide ample shade around the surrounding of your turkey rearing area, and make sure if they are in their cages roll the covers up so that the cage will be well ventilated. Install a hot filament bulb in the coop, hanging from the roof to provide heat during cold nights.
Debeaking And Toe Clipping
Cutting of the beak and clipping of their toe is essential to prevent them from injuring each other. Consult a veterinary.
They require vaccination at least twice times from 0 – 10 weeks. A veterinarian will best explain what your turkey needs. Deworming should be done at least once a month, the deworming drug is usually mixed with their water.
Turkey tend to be easily frightened by a person’s presence which may result in a stampede when inside a cage. They may injure themselves by trampling, so when handling them it is best done in low light.
Shelter For Turkey Rearing
Turkeys are kept in low cost rearing pen/cages called coops. They could be made of iron or wood and covered with corrugated zinc sheets. The height should be up to 2.5 to 3 meters from the floor to roof with a meter long overhang to prevent rain from splashing into the coop.
Floor Space – The required space for a fully grown turkey is at least one square meter per bird. So for ten birds they will need a minimum of 10 square meters. Avoid overcrowding the birds to prevent trampling and to ensure that each bird had enough to eat.
Floor Covering – Saw dust, wood shavings and other similar materials should be used for the floor covering. It should be about 2 inches thick and gradually increased to 4 inches and it should be raked regularly to prevent caking.
Feed and Feeding
What turkey eats is similar to what chickens eat. Mostly grains and occasionally even feeds on greens and vegetables. Their diet requires about 25% proteins and a good amount (1%) of calcium because of their large size. When it comes to consumption of water they require an around-the-clock supply of clean water, and the water troughs should be filled even more regularly during the hot season. They feed on 150 grams of feed every day per bird, which is like half a mudu of millet for each turkey.
The total feed consumption of the Toms is estimated at about 20 kg from 4-16 weeks.
The total feed consumption for the Hens is estimated at about 15 kg from 4-16 weeks.
You can feed them with hybrid feeds or feed them a mix of both common and hybrid feeds. They also eat leftovers, a little bit of fruits and vegetables are also recommended to meet their dietary needs most especially onions. Some points to consider when feeding your turkey birds for optimum results are;
- They should be fed during the cooler parts of the day, morning or afternoon.
- Always provide them with clean water.
- Water troughs should always be full at all times.
- Provide more waterers during summer/hot season.
- Avoid pouring the feed on the floor but in feeders.
- When change is made from one diet to another take precaution to withdraw gradually from their former diet by mixing it with the new diet when feeding them.
List of Major Feeds
- Wheat (recommended)
- Egg shell grit (30-40 grams per bird occasionally)
- Fish (both dried and fresh)
- Turkey Starter’s mash (4-5 weeks old)
- Turkey Grower’s mash (5-8 weeks old)
- Turkey Finisher
- Chicken feed
(Please contact your supplier of hybrid feeds for the proper ratios and age the turkey birds are supposed to take them, there are many feed concentrates out there and it is not wise to use just any type).
List of Required Items and Price
The items list is split in two, one representing everything you will need according to the model we are adopting for ten turkeys and from the 4/5 week old, and the other is just representing the general price of items to help you decide in case you wish to deviate.
First List of Items:
|Feeder||Linear, 7-10cm long.||5||5000|
|Coop/Cage||Cage made of wood covered with corrugated zinc. Ten square meters with cement flooring.||1||35,500|
|Turkey Birds||4 weeks old.||10||17,000|
|Feed (specify)||Average feed consumption for ten turkeys for 14 weeks (for maize and other similar grains).||240 kg||32,200|
|Supplementary Diet||This is the price for different variety of the additional nutritional feeds that it should at least amount to.||4,000|
|Veterinary Services||Depends widely on your region and expertise.||Once||2,000|
Second List of Items:
Item Price (Naira)
Metal cage 37,000
Starter’s mash 4,000
Grower’s mash 5,500
Other Hybrid feed 5,500
(It is okay to feed you birds hybrid feed or a mix with regular feed but it is not necessary. All prices listed in the second list are estimates)
The right market age for turkey is 16 weeks of age. The Toms should weigh 7.5 kg and the hens should weigh 5.5 kg at that stage.
When they are up to the market size the next thing is to sell them. Erecting posters to let your neighbors know you are selling turkey is a good idea if you are good at shrewd bargaining. Shipping them off to the market is a more efficient approach as they could all be sold at once except usually at a lower price than directly to people.
Both methods are fairly easy and yield a lot of profits, finding an animal market wouldn’t be a problem if you know your locality well, sell to any marketer or dealer that shows interest, it’s as simple as that.
Expected Profit Margin
The expected profit margin is difficult to discern because the market for live animals widely vary but generally it should be at around 87%, that is N66,000 (NGN) in your pockets after three painstaking months.
Capital to start the business: N104,600
Monthly expenditures: N3,430
Potential customers: Market, animal markets and most of your neighbourhood.
Marketable weight: 7.5 kg
Marketable age: 16 weeks.
Daily amount of feed per bird: 150 grams.
Average amount of feed for 16 weeks: 24 kg.
Suitable location: Backyards or any available space.
Potential growth: Business has the potential to expand to a turkey farm.