Can You Raise Turkeys and Chickens Together?

Can You Raise Turkeys and Chickens Together?

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You’re thinking of raising turkeys but you’re wondering if you can stick them in with your chickens. Good question! So, can you raise turkeys and chickens together? Let me tell you what we’ve done here at our homestead.

Yes, you can raise turkeys and chickens together.

We have always raised our turkeys and chickens together. We generally raise Broad Breasted turkeys (White and/or Bronze) and Cornish Cross meat birds in the same coop/area, and we try to have the poults and chicks delivered at the same time.

Turkey poults and cornish cross chicks under a heat lamp in a brooder
Turkey poults and Cornish Cross chicks shortly after arriving at our farm, and warming up under the heat lamp!

Why raise your turkeys and chickens together?

There are a couple reasons we choose to raise turkeys and chickens together.

A) We haven’t seen an issue with Blackhead disease in our area.

This is the first thing to pay attention to if you want to raise turkeys and chickens together. Blackhead is a disease that chickens can carry (but aren’t affected by) but if they pass it on to a turkey, it is usually fatal to the turkey.

My friend at A Farmgirl in the Making has an excellent section on Blackhead disease in her article Raising Turkeys on the Homestead.

If Blackhead is an issue where you live, or you are concerned about the risk of your turkeys contracting the disease, you would do best to keep your chickens and turkeys separate on your homestead.

Turkey poults with cornish cross chicks in a brooder
Say hi for the camera, turkeys!

B) The Cornish Cross chicks teach the turkey poults how to eat and drink.

Any time our turkey poults have arrived a day or two before our Cornish Cross chicks, it’s proven to us how helpful it is to have the Cornish Cross chicks around as teachers! Without the chicks there, the poults sort of walk around being adorable and curious but not always smart enough to figure out that thing of water is a thing of water and they should drink it.

But what about size differences when raising turkeys and chickens together?

Cornish Cross chicks grow fast, so I haven’t seen any issues caused by size differences between the chickens and turkey poults. In fact, if you raise Cornish Cross chickens (white) and Broad Breasted turkeys (also white) it can sometimes be hard to immediately tell who is who in the brooder during the first several weeks.

Turkey poults and Cornish Cross chicks together at 3.5 weeks old
Turkey poults and Cornish Cross chicks together, 3.5 weeks old

Obviously at some point the turkeys overtake the chickens in size, but by that point it’s not an issue (they’re used to being coop mates) and the chickens are pretty close to being on their way out to freezer camp. We’ve never had issues with bullying or fighting between the turkeys and chickens.

I don’t have experience raising turkeys with other types of chickens, so I can’t advise on smaller chicks with slower growth, but with our Cornish Cross chickens, the choice to raise turkeys and chickens together has worked out really well at our homestead.

Good luck with your turkey raising adventure!

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Turkey poult roosting on the side of a brooder, looking over Cornish Cross chicks.


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