So now you've decided to run right out and get a gaggle of turkeys but ... where to you put them? As we learned here, I am the Fred Sandford of farming. I kid you not, I can make something out of just about nothing. Such was the case when I framed in a badly used, yet still structurally sound, shed that was here when we arrived at this property. My brother-in-law, who is a contractor said I should just push the whole thing over, but come on.. its me. So I made do with what I had.
The exterior back and side walls is just that exterior siding stuff. We cut a simple hatch/hinged door in the back for the turkey to get to their yard. Inside there are 2 laying boxes (on the floor) and a perch for the birds to roost. It is not fancy but it gets the job done. The coops are set back a couple of feet from the front edge of the building. This allowed a walkway between the exterior doors/wall and the coops.
We used that open area for storage, but then quickly figured out that we could build a 3rd coop right in the center. Our guineas live there now - totally separate from the turks. Aside from the dogs, the guineas are our best watchdogs and therefore are good neighbors for our most valuable birds.
The graveled side on the right is show just before it was framed in much like the turkey side. Instead of a raised floor we decided on just gravel. At that time we figured the ducks could live with the turks - wow that was a huge mistake that I hope you folks don't make. I spent most of the summer with a pick axe trying to dig down 6 inches thru cement-like mud to improve the drainage on that side for waterfowl. Drainage works great now but the ducks aren't going to live here again.
Now we use the right side as a brooder for our turkey hens. This works great. However, we may try and pour cement into the floor. This winter we've had a lot of rats digging around in there. When the weather warms up we'll lock our Shine, King of Barncats, in there for a few nights. Then we'll see who's laughing. But we'll still probably pour the floor.
This shows the completed, framed in turkey house.
See that we've added doors on both sides. The guinea coop is between those doors at the center window. We still have an open area between the exterior and interior doors of each coop. The windows were cheap cast offs at a surplus building supply, the doors are just extra heavy exterior siding reinforced with 1x3's (see the propped open door). And we used regular exterior siding to finish off the rest.
If you were to walk up to that open door on the right you would see...
This! See the new coop on the right. It is framed in and covered with chicken wire. The coop door (shown open) is locked up at night so whoever lives there is behind two doors. All of our exterior doors are locked with a clasp that will at least slow down a tricky raccoon. And the interior doors have a different type of clasp. We figure if raccoons or coyotes get into the first door, the guineas will start raising a ruckus and give me enough time to go charging out there, dogs and guns blazing.
There are lots of great plans out there for "real" turkey shelters. Most extension offices have plans or you can find them online here. Or I remember that the Storey's Guide had great info on what you'll need.
With turkeys remember that you need a pretty big hatch-type door for a bird that can be 35 lbs or larger...and you need really good ventilation. Don't worry about it being too cold. Heritage breed turks are extremely winter hardy and like most stock they really just need to be out of the wind.
As far as feeders and accouterments we keep it simple. We like buckets for drinkers (unless there are poults then use a "real" drinker!) and just a $3.99 round metal pan for a feeder. Easy peasy.
So now you have your order for poults in and your gumption up - now get out there and frame up a turkey house!
Anybody else have questions on turkeys? We can just keep this turkey train rolling if you'd like.