Andrew Fothergill, National Poultry Advisor for ForFarmers, explains why nutrition is critical to support seasonal turkey production
There is more that goes into turkey feeding programmes than meets the eye, and understanding the important role of nutrition in supporting the very best end product is crucial for producers to understand.
Turkeys have different nutritional requirements depending on their life stage, so feed specifications should be matched to the associated needs and challenges.
Here are some top tips that will help you gain the best results from your seasonal turkey venture and support ForFarmers total feed approach.
Housing and environment
A comfortable and warm environment will enable the turkey poults to be active and able to forage for food, encouraging growth from day one.
It is very important for the young birds to have easy access to drinkers and feeders, and that these are positioned within the temperate comfort zone.
Always make sure that the water is clean and palatable by flushing any standing water through.
Essential oils and prebiotics
The use of essential oils and prebiotics promotes beneficial microflora of the gut.
Enzymes are added to ensure the optimal utilisation of nutrients and prevent anti-nutritional factors interfering with digestion.
This also helps to maintain digestive health and litter quality, which means that birds will be cleaner and easier to pluck.
ForFarmers formulations include the strategic use of natural plant extracts to reduce pathogen colonisation – supporting health and immune function.
Strategic application of Vitamin D
The inclusion of a specific Vitamin D metabolite (25 hydroxy vitamin D) supports skeletal development, helping to deliver early growth and uniformity.
It also helps the bird utilise dietary calcium most efficiently to form strong bones.
This is clearly important for health and wellbeing – particularly for those birds reared on range – but carcass quality is also improved through enhanced breast yield and conformation, reduced “black bone”, and improved appearance of thigh meat.
This makes more of the bird, more acceptable, to more of your customers.
Changing environment and feed
When the turkey poults reach around eight weeks, they will move from their brooding housing and often have to adapt to a change in diet.
Ideally, avoid concurrent housing and diet changes and keep life experiences as smooth as possible for optimum growth and development, so it’s recommended to work any housing changes around this.
You could either introduce a rearing diet before moving the birds or maintain an early grower diet for a week or two after moving the turkeys.
Calorie to protein ratio
As the bird’s reach the finishing phase and their daily growth rate begins to slow, a higher percentage of the weight gain will be muscle, so ensure that you support this by optimising the calorie to protein ratio.
ForFarmers Traditional Turkey Range is formulated with a calorie to protein ratio appropriate to the age of the bird.
This carefully specified balance of energy and protein promotes the necessary levels of intramuscular and subcutaneous fat, which ensures maximum flavour and succulence of the finished bird.
Careful consideration of dietary ingredients helps ensure that the traditional maturation process delivers a full flavoured bird without the risk of unacceptable taints to the more sensitive palate.
You can find out more about nutrition specifically for seasonal turkey production on our website: https://www.forfarmers.co.uk/poultry/traditional-turkey.aspx.
And for producers looking to share ideas with other producers our new Christmas Turkey & Goose Exchange group is now up and running on Facebook.
This space can be used to buy and sell your produce for the Christmas period, as well as communicating with other Turkey & Goose producers.
For more information on the ForFarmers Traditional Turkey range please contact our Poultry team on:
Tel: 0330 678 1080