Black turkey farming is common and popular in Europe, and it is also raised in many other countries throughout the world. It is also known as Black Spanish or Norfok Black turkey. And the breed is raised mainly for meat production purpose.
The Black turkey breed was developed in Europe from the Aztec turkeys originally brought from Mexico by Spanish explorers. The black colored turkeys originally were a relative rarity among New World flocks, but Europeans heavily selected for this trait until it became predominant. The Black turkey is generally considered as the oldest turkey breed in the United Kingdom.
The black colored turkeys became very popular in Spain, and they were known as ‘Black Spanish’ there. These birds made the voyage black to the Americans with early European colonists, after being selected for meat production for more than two Centuries.
The basis of Black turkey variety was formed in America once the variety was crossed with Eastern wild turkeys. And through the 20th Century, the black variety was commercially viable, although it was not as popular as Bourbon Red, Bronze, Narragansett and White Holland varieties.
The Black turkey breed was officially recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874. Currently, the breed is common in Europe, but it is considered as an endangered variety of heritage turkey by The Livestock Conservancy. And the breed is also included in Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste (a catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction).
However, as these birds are good for meat production, so starting commercial Black turkey farming will be a good and profitable business if you can manage everything perfectly.
How to Start Black Turkey Farming
The Black turkeys are very strong and hardy birds like many other domestic turkey breeds. So starting Black turkey farming commercially will be relatively easy. Here we are trying to describe more information about starting and operating a successful Black turkey farming business from purchasing birds to caring and marketing.
First of all, you have to purchase very good quality, healthy, active and disease free birds for starting your Black turkey farming business. Purchasing good quality birds is very important, because good quality birds ensure good production and maximum profits.
You can purchase either day old poults or mature birds depending on the price and availability in your area. The mature birds are generally sold at very high price in the market. On the other hand the day old poults are much cheaper. So, we recommend starting with day old poults.
You can purchase the poults from any of your nearest turkey breeding centers, turkey poult suppliers or any existing Black turkey farms. You can also consider searching your local online classified websites. Just ensure that the birds are strong, hardy and active.
Making a good, secure and comfortable housing system is very important for Black turkey farming business. Because a good house not only helps the birds to stay healthy, but also helps them to stay free from all types of predators and adverse weather conditions.
Like raising many other domestic turkey breeds, the Black turkey birds also require a secure, comfortable and clean housing environment. So, you have to ensure all required facilities for your birds inside the house. You have to provide them with a good roosting area with a roof. And their roosting area must have to have good protection against predators.
The Black turkeys also do very well in free range system, like many other domestic turkey breeds. So, allowing your birds to access fresh pasture will be good. These birds also require a place to dust bathe and a roosting place for flying up into at night.
The Black turkeys are classed as a medium to large sized birds. So, each mature bird will require around or up to 10-12 square feet of housing space.
Feeding the birds with very good quality, healthy and nutritious food is the most important part of Black turkey farming business. Because good quality and nutritious food not only helps the birds to stay healthy, but also helps them to grow better and produce more.
You can feed your turkeys either with commercial poultry feeds or turkey feeds depending on the availability in your area. The turkey birds generally require more protein in their diet than chickens. So, you have to ensure availability of adequate amount of protein in their diet.
Feeds of the adult bird should contain at least 20% protein, and the starter feeds should contain at least 28% protein. You can also feed your poults with gamebird starter or chick starter feeds for the first 6 weeks, and then switch to a grower food gradually.
Like many other turkey breeds, the Black turkey birds generally reach marketing size within their 6 months of age. And on an average, a hen will require around 60 pounds of feed, and a tom will require around 100 pounds of feed for reaching marketing size.
Never feed your birds with contaminated feeds. And always try to provide them with enough clean and fresh drinking water as per their demand.
The Black turkeys are good for raising in both confinement and free range system. But raising them in free range system will be good. Because it will help you to reduce feeding costs, and at the same time the free range birds will produce better quality products.
The Black turkeys are naturally very good breeders, just like many other domestic turkey breeds. They will breed easily and produce enough fertile eggs for hatching if you keep good ratio of hens and toms in your flock. Generally one mature and healthy tom is enough for breeding around or up to 8-10 hens.
The Black turkeys are very strong and hardy birds. So they generally require less caring and other management. Although taking additional caring will help the birds to grow better and produce more.
Monitor your bird’s health on a regular basis for any signs of diseases or illness. And take necessary steps as soon as possible if you notice anything uncommon. Vaccinate them timely and always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.
Marketing turkey products is not a problem. Because turkey meat has very good demand and value in the market. So, you will probably be able to easily sell your products in the local market. Although, you should set your marketing strategies before starting this business.
These are the steps and ways for starting and operating a successful Black turkey farming business. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may God bless you!