Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE94-051.
The information collected from this project showed that there were several advantages to using the portable hoophouses to raise turkeys on pasture. The turkeys grazed well, and contact with potential disease causing organism in manure was limited by giving them fresh pasture daily. The 6% reduction in fed consumed per pound of turkey produced (in the pastured birds) would come out to approximately $.57 less for a twenty pound turkey. This is probably not too significant for a small scale producer, but every little bit helps! It was interested to see that an 10 1/2 weeks, there was a 12% difference in feed consumption between the pastured and indoor birds and that this difference decreased over time. This may have been because when the pastured birds were smaller, the high quality pasture in the pen lasted longer, coupled with the fact that the colder weather in October and November probably caused the pastured turkeys to burn more grain for maintenance while pasture quality had gone down. Moving the pens more frequently as the birds got larger and/ or bringing the turkeys inside during the last few weeks in November may be ways to decrease feed consumption per pound of turkey sold.
Because I like turkey and they fit into the overall scheme of things at The Farm Between, I plan on raising 100 turkeys again next year. I am still looking for a better method for containing them on pasture (I haven’t had good luck with electric fencing), but I am not optimistic that I will find one. The hoophouses fit into my operations and I will probably use them again next year for turkeys. I may bring the turkeys into the barn for the last few weeks after the pastures have gone by to reduce grain consumption (the extra grains used for energy against the elements in November) and to reduce crowding. I will also try to move them more often in response to the amount of pasture they are consuming.