Methods of Feeding Turkeys
by J.S. Carver, L.A. Wilhelm, and J.W. Cook State College of Washington Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 356, April 1938
With the increased interest and production of turkeys in the State of Washington, there has been a growing demand for specific information on methods of turkey feeding, management, breeding, and hatching. In a survey made before starting this experimental work, it was found that there was considerable confusion in the minds of many poultrymen as to the relative efficiency between the mash and pellet methods of feeding. A review of the literature on turkey nutrition and methods of feeding failed to disclose any studies which would be of assistance in answering this question. As a result, an experimental program was outlined to investigate several methods of feeding growing turkeys.
This experiment was started on May 4, 1937, with 396 carefully selected day old Bronze turkey poults. These poults were divided into six lots of 66 poults and brooded under electric brooders. After the first week, all lots were allowed the use of wire sunporches.
The same starting mash formula was used in both the mash or pellet form in all lots from one to eight weeks. The formulas used in this experiment are described in Table 1 and the chemical analysis of the rations in Table 2.
The following methods of feeding were used:
|1-6 weeks||7-8 weeks|
|Lots 1 and 4||starting mash, ad lib.||starting mash, ad lib.|
|Lots 2 and 5||75 per cent starting mash|
25 per cent starting pellets
3/32 inch size
|75 per cent starting mash|
25 per cent starting pellets
9/64 inch size
|Lots 3 and 6||starting pellets only|
3/32 inch size
|starting pellets only|
9/64 inch size
The starting scratch grain described in Table 1 was hand-fed from the fifth to the twelfth week, inclusive. The scratch ration was fed in addition to the mash once daily at the rate of one-half pint per 100 birds during the fifth week. Each week thereafter, this amount was increased by one-half pint a week. Water, granite grit, and finely-cut succulent green alfalfa were supplied ad lib. to all lots.
At the end of the eighth week, the duplicate lots were combined and the poults were allowed to run on alfalfa range. The turkey developing mash or pellets, described in Table 1, was fed ad lib. from the ninth to the twenty-eighth week. All the lots of turkeys were hopper fed the developing scratch grain from the thirteenth to the twenty-fourth week. From the twenty-fifth to the twenty-eighth week all lots were fed the finishing scratch grain described in Table 1 in place of the developing scratch. The scratch grain was hopper fed ad lib. as a supplement to the developing mash or pellets.
Lots 1 and 4 were fed developing mash. The same developing mash was processed into 13/64 inch size pellets and fed to lots 3 and 6 from the ninth to the twenty-eighth week. For the same period, lots 2 and 5 were fed the developing mash in the proportion of 25 per cent pellets and 75 per cent mash.
At four weeks the poults were roosted on 2 by 4 inch perches laid flat. At the beginning of the ninth week, the turkeys were supplied outside roosting racks and for the duration of the experiment they were without shelter. Feed hoppers and drinking fountains were placed on wire covered frames to prevent contamination. Shade was supplied on the range by one fence row of trees on each of the ranges. Each lot of turkeys was allowed to feed for two weeks on one feed lot and then was changed to a new range for a two-week period. This rotation was practiced throughout the remainder of the growing period. An excellent stand of alfalfa was maintained until the first of October, when it became necessary to replace the succulent alfalfa with firstcutting alfalfa hay, fed ad lib. The individual weights of the turkeys were recorded at frequent intervals throughout the experiment, and a record of mortality and feed consumption was kept.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The average male and female body weights are reported in Table 3. The initial weights of the toms and hens in all lots were almost identical. No significant difference was noted in the body weights of either the hens or the toms in any of the lots at eight weeks of age, although the toms in each lot were heavier than the hens.
At twenty weeks of age, there was still no significant difference in the body weight as affected by the different methods of feeding with either the toms or hens. At the twenty-fourth and twenty-eighth week, the turkeys which were fed the mash in the form of pellets supplemented with scratch grain and alfalfa range had slightly greater body weight. At twenty-four weeks of age, the turkeys on this same method of feeding showed slightly greater weight, but at twenty-eight weeks, there was very little difference between the birds fed pellets and those fed mash and scratch grain.
The analysis of the variance outlined by Snedecor1, example 3, showed no significant difference in body weight at twenty-eight weeks between any of the lots.
Figure l shows the average body weight of Bronze turkey toms and hens from day-old to twenty-eight weeks of age. The growth of the toms was even and regular throughout the entire twenty-eight week period. Excellent growth was maintained by all lots of hens until the twelfth week. The growth of hens in all lots then showed a definite retardation until the end of the experiment. The average live body weights of the toms at twenty-eight weeks were: Lot 1, 24.59 pounds; Lot 2, 24.57 pounds; Lot 3, 25.30 pounds. The average live body weights of the hens at the same time were: Lot 1, 15:56 pounds; Lot 2, 15.26 pounds; Lot 3, 15.58 pounds.
The average feed consumption and cost of feed per turkey for twenty-eight weeks is reported in Table 4. The total mash consumption at twenty-eight weeks for Lots 1 and 4 was 54.48 pounds and the total scratch grain consumption was 45.48 pounds. Lots 2 and 5 had consumed at twenty-eight weeks, 54.69 pounds of mash and pellets and 42.73 pounds of scratch grain. For Lots 3 and 6 the total pellet consumption at twenty-eight weeks was 48.63 pounds and 44.58 pounds of scratch grain. While the consumption of scratch grain for all lots was practically the same, Lots 3 and 6 consumed about six pounds less pelleted mash for the twenty-eight week period. The total feed consumed for the lots receiving mash was 99.96 pounds; mash and pellet lots, 97.42 pounds; and for the pellet lots, 93.21 pounds for the twenty-eight week period. Lots 3 and 6 had the lowest feed cost for the twenty-eight week period with a total cost of $2.16, compared to $2.28 for the lots fed mash and $2.24 for the mash and pellet lots. It was observed that from two to ten days of age the young poults ate the pelleted feed more readily than the mash. On the range the pelleted feed showed no wind wastage, and wastage of the feed in the mash lots was prevented by placing the hoppers in protected locations.
Figure 2 illustrates the relative consumption of scratch and mash from one to twenty-eight weeks. The scratch grain consumption up to the twelfth week was limited by hand feeding of scratch. From the twelfth week on, scratch grain was hopper fed ad lib. so that at sixteen weeks the turkeys were eating 19 per cent scratch grain and 81 per cent mash or pellets. During the next four weeks, ending the twentieth week, there was a very rapid increase in scratch grain consumption with the turkeys eating 51 per cent scratch and 49 per cent mash or pellets. At twenty-four weeks we find a ratio of 60 per cent scratch to 40 per cent mash or pellets, and during the last four weeks of the twenty-eight week period, they reach a maximum of 72 per cent scratch and 28 per cent mash or pellets.
The developing mash or pellets contained 20.5 per cent protein; the developing scratch 10.4 per cent; and finishing scratch 10.2 per cent. The average per cent protein intake of all lots of turkeys with the scratch and mash fed ad lib. was: from seventeen to twenty weeks, 15.3; from twenty-one to twenty-four weeks, 14.4; and from twenty-five to twenty-eight weeks, 13.0. These results indicate that the protein requirements of turkeys rapidly decrease as they increase in age.
The developing mash fed in this experiment contained ten per cent high-fat fish meal. This was supplemented by scratch grain fed ad lib. The turkeys consumed only 40 per cent mash from twenty to twenty-four weeks and 28 per cent of mash from twenty-four to twenty-eight weeks. This increased percentage of scratch grain in the ration consumed by the turkeys during the last two months reduced materially the total per cent fish meal in the ration.
In order to check the effect of the feeding of fish meal in the turkey ration on fishy flavor or odor, representative turkeys were selected from each lot for killing, storage, and cooking tests. One lot was killed with full crops; a second lot was confined for ten days and fed the finishing mash plus one per cent cod liver oil and grain fed ad lib.; a third group was confined and fed entirely on pellets for the ten-day period. The birds were then semi-scalded, cooled for two days in a room at 50° F, and then held for one week at 30° F. The birds were then drawn and prepared for roasting. All the turkeys were cooked at one time in covered roasters in the same oven under similar conditions. A group of six tasters tasted the liver, white meat, dark meat of the thigh and the unseasoned liquor in the roaster. No fishy flavor or off-odor was detected from any of the roasted turkeys. These results were not in agreement with those reported by Marble et.al. who found ten per cent of white fish meal produced a fishy flavor and odor in the roasted carcasses of turkeys at twenty-eight weeks of age.
The high percentage of grain consumed during the last eight weeks and the method of feeding used in this experiment with the accompanied low intake of high-fat fish meal apparently prevents the development of a fishy flavor in turkeys.
The feed costs and the returns per turkey marketed are reported in Table 5. The average dressed weight of the toms and hens for Lots 1 and 4 was 19.01 pounds; Lots 2 and 5, 18.63 pounds; Lots 3 and 6, 18.91 pounds. The toms and hens were sold at an average market price of 24 cents per pound, dressed weight. The returns over feed costs for Lots 1 and 4 were $2.28; Lots 2 and 5, $2.23; and the pellet and scratch grain Lots 3 and 6 showed the greatest returns over feed costs with an income of $2.38 per bird.
The dressed body weights and costs per pound of Bronze turkeys at twenty-eight weeks of age are graphically illustrated in Figure 3. The average dressed weight of the toms in Lots 1 and 4 was 23.6 pounds; Lots 2 and 5, 22.9 pounds; and Lots 3 and 6, 23.2 pounds. The average dressed weights of the hens in Lots 1 and 4 were 14.5 pounds; Lots 2 and 5, 14.4 pounds; and Lots 3 and 6, 14.6 pounds. The average cost of feed per pound of Bronze turkeys at twenty-eight weeks of age was: Lots 1 and 4, 12 cents; Lots 2 and 5, 12 cents; and Lots 3 and 6, 11.4 cents.
The pounds of feed per pound of gain and the cost of feed per pound of gain are shown in Table 6. As the result of this analysis, it was found that the most efficient utilization of feed was made by Lots 3 and 6, which required 4.59 pounds of feed per pound of gain in weight. Lots 1 and 4 required 5.01 pounds of feed per pound of gain and Lots 2 and 5, 4.92 pounds of feed per pound of gain. Lots 3 and 6 had the lowest cost of feed per pound of gain with a cost of 10.7 cents as compared to 11.5 cents for Lots 1 and 4 and 11.3 cents for Lots 2 and 5.
The average dressed weights and U. S. grades of these turkeys at twenty-eight weeks are presented in Table 7. Lots 1 and 4, fed mash and scratch grain, had an average grade of 87.8 per cent prime. Lots 2 and 5, fed 75 per cent mash and 25 per cent pellets with scratch grain, had an average grade of 91.5 per cent prime. Lots 3 and 6, fed pellets and scratch grain, had an average grade of 81.4 per cent prime. The lower percentage in the prime grades of the pellet lots, 3 and 6, was due to poorer killing and bleeding. An examination before killing showed that there was practically no difference in the number of turkeys grading prime in any of the lots.
The mortality was largely from mechanical causes such as injury, 6; impacted gizzards, 19; and cannibalism, 4. Six turkeys died from blackhead.
No significant difference was noted at twenty-eight weeks in the body weights of either the hens or toms fed mash, mash and pellets, or pellets supplemented with scratch grain and green feed.
The lots fed mash, mash and pellets, and pellets ate practically the same amounts of feed during the twenty-eight weeks. It was observed that the pelleted feed was more attractive and palatable than mash to the young turkey poults from two to ten days of age.
The total pounds of feed consumed during the twenty-eight week growing period were: 99.96 pounds for the lots of turkeys fed mash and scratch grain; 97.42 pounds for the lots fed 75 per cent mash and 25 per cent pellets and scratch grain; and 93.21 pounds for the lots fed pellets and scratch grain. From the twelfth to the sixteenth week, the turkeys ate 19 per cent scratch and 81 per cent mash. The consumption of scratch grain steadily increased until, for the four weeks ending with the twenty-eighth week, the turkeys ate 72 per cent scratch grain and 28 per cent mash.
The protein consumption of the turkeys showed a rapid decrease as the consumption of scratch grain increased, until a low level of 13 per cent was reached at the end of the twenty-eight week period.
As a result of the cooking tests, no fishy flavor or off-odor was detected in any of the roasted turkeys.
The lots of turkeys fed on pellets and scratch grain had slightly higher returns over feed costs than the turkeys fed by the other methods. The pounds of feed per pound of gain and the cost of feed per pound of gain were both slightly less in the lots fed pellets and scratch grain.
The average cost of feed for the turkeys fed mash and scratch grain was $2.28; for the lots fed mash and pellets and scratch grain, $2.24; and those fed on pellets and scratch grain, $2.16.
The cost of feed per pound of dressed turkey for the lots fed pellets and scratch grain was 11.4 cents, and for each of the other two lots, 12 cents.
There was no significant difference in the average dressed weights of the turkeys in any of the lots, and all lots showed a high percentage of top U. S. grades of turkeys.