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How to guide for Turkey Raring in Uganda

by Admin

Turkey occupies an important position next to chicken, duck. Guinea fowl and quail in contributing the most evolving sector, which is playing a significant role in
augmenting the economic and nutritional status of varied population.
They form almost two percent of the total poultry population. They are reared for meat only and its meat is
the leanest among other domestic avian species.

Only about 1 out of every 100 households in Uganda (1.3%) owned turkeys as of 2008.
Regional analysis shows that in the Eastern region 3.5% of the households owned turkeys,
while in the Western region only 0.4% of the households owned turkeys.

Turkey and the world: Turkey farming is very popular in western countries and the major turkey
producing countries are United States of America, Canada, Germany, France, Italy,
Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The Annual per capita consumption of turkey meat
in the above said countries ranges from 4-8 kg per year. Turkey population touched 259
millions in 1992(Singh, 1996). The estimated world turkey meat production in 2004 is
4.94 million tones.

History and thanksgiving holiday: Turkey (Meleagris Gallopavo) is a large gallinaceous bird of the family
Meleagridae that is native of North America, domesticated in Europe and are now
important source of food in many parts of the world. Columbus took specimens to Spain
in 1948. Reports on turkey were there in Germany in 1530 and in England by 1541.

The first president of the United States of America, George Washington, issued a general
proclamation in1789 to celebrate “thanksgiving” on November 26. In 1893 President
Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November a national thanksgiving holiday. Later
it was changed to the fourth Thursday of November. However, turkey is synonymous
with Christmas.

About Commercial Turkey Farming in Uganda

Before Sabena Airlines went out of business in 2002, (to become SN Brussels) commercial turkey farming in Uganda
and neighbouring countries was growing slowly but steadily.
Most of the exotic stock was being imported from Agriconcern, a Belgium based turkey breeding company.
Unlike other poultry birds, the demand for turkeys was seasonal, mainly during festive days and the
importation had to be done on individual basis.
Sabena Airlines going out of business had a drastic effect on turkey importers in Uganda
since most were getting thier stock from Brussels.

The national turkey number for Uganda in 2008 was estimated to be 0.35 million as of 2008.
Regionally, the Eastern Region had the highest number of turkeys estimated to be 0.24 million (68.3%), while the
Karamoja sub-region had the least number of turkeys estimated to be 11,800 (3.4%).

Amongst the turkey-owning households; a typical household in Uganda owns on average four (4) turkeys.
In terms of region; a typical household amongst the turkey-owning households in Karamoja sub-region
had the highest average turkey flock size estimated to be seven (7) turkeys, while a typical household
amongst the turkey-owning households in Central region had the least average turkey flock size estimated to be
four (4) turkeys.

Common Turkey Breeds

Turkeys are not classified into breeds, however seven standard varieties are
available, Bronze, White Holland, Bourbon red, Narragansett, Black, Slate, Beltsville
small white.

Board breasted bronze: The basic plumage color is black and not bronze. The females have black breast
feathers with white tips, which help in sex determination as early as 12 weeks of age.

Board breasted white: This is a cross between Board breasted bronze and White Holland with white
feathers. This variety was developed at the Cornell University. White plumage turkeys
seems to be suitable Indian-Agro climatic conditions as they have better heat tolerance
and also good and clean in appearance after dressing.

Beltsville small white: This variety was developed at Agricultural University Research Station,
Beltsville, USA. It closely resembles the Board breasted white in color and shape but
smaller in size. Egg production, fertility and hatchability tend to be higher and broodiness
tends to be lower than heavy varieties.

Other Breeds of turkeys in the World: The Industry is dominated by three breeding companies offering 4 parental heavy type
breeds (Big six, Hybrid large white, Nicholar 900 & 700) and 5 medium heavy types (BUT-8, BUT-9, Big-9, hybrid super medium & Nicolas 300).
In addition to Poland the regional breeders have introduced two medium varieties, Benkova and Jancowski in
1995. In Europe, medium type turkeys available are, Gaubin(France), and Kvama(Poland).

Useful Terminologies in Turkey Farming

Tom: Adult male turkey

Hem: Adult female turkey

Poult: Young one of turkey

Snood or Dew bill: The fleshy protuberance near the base of the beck

Caruncles: The fleshy protuberance on the head and neck usually pink or red in color which appear from about 5th week of age

Dewlap: A large flap skin seen immediately below the chim

Bread: A tuft of hair attached to the skin of the upper chest region

Strut: Mating behavior of male turkey

Shooting the red (Similar to an ulcer): The development of caruncles and this is supposed to indicate the most difficult time in the life of young turkey

Debeaking: Poults should be debeaked to control feather picking and cannibalism. Debeaking
can be done at day old or 3-5 weeks of age. Remove the beak at about one half the
distance from nostril to the tip of the beak.

Desnooding: Removal of the snood or dewbill is to prevent the head injuries from picking and
fighting. At the day old the snood can be removed by shumbnail or finger pressure. At 3
weeks of age it can be cut off close to the head with sharp scissors.

Detoeing or toe clipping: Clipping is done at day old by removing the tip of the toe just to the inside of the
outer most toe pad including the entire toenail.

Nutritional Benefits you get from Turkey Products

Turkey egg: The turkey will start lay from the 30th week of age and its production period is 24
weeks from the point of lay. Under proper feeding and artificial lightening management
turkey hens lay as much as 60-100 eggs annually. Nearly 70 percent of the eggs will be
laid in the afternoon. The turkey eggs are tinted and weigh about 85 gms. Egg is
noticeably pointed at one end with strong shell. The protein, lipid carbohydrate and
mineral content of turkey egg are 13.1%, 11.8%,1.7% and 0.8% respectively. The
cholesterol is 15.67-23.97 mg/gm of yolk.

Turkey meat: Turkey meat has nutritional and sensorial properties which make it almost ideal
raw material for rational and curative nutrition. People prefer turkey meat because of its
leanest nature. The protein, fat, energy value of turkey meat are 24%,6.6%, 162 Calories
per 100 gm of meat. Mineral like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc
and sodium are present. It is also rich in essential amino acids and vitamins like niacin,
vitamin B6 and B12. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids and low
in cholesterol.

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How to raise your turkeys to maturity
by: Noah

How to Incubate turkey Eggs

The incubation period is 28 days in turkey. There are two methods of incubation.

Natural incubation with broody hens: Naturally turkeys are good brooders and the broody hen can hatch 10-15 numbers
of eggs. Only clean eggs with good eggshell and shape should be placed for brooding to get 60-80% hatchability and healthy poults.

Artificial Incubation: In artificial incubation, eggs are hatched with the help of incubators.

The temperature and relative humidity in setter and hatcher are as follows:

  • Setter: Temperature (Degree F)- 99.5 Relative humidity (%)- 61-63

  • Hatcher: Temperature (Degree F)- 99.5 Relative humidity (%)- 85-90

Egg should be turned at hourly intervals daily. Eggs should be collected frequently to prevent soiling and breakage and also to get better hatchability.

How to Brood Turkey Chicks/Poults

In turkey 0-4 weeks period is called as brooding period. However, in winter brooding period is extended upto 5-6 weeks.
As a thumb rule the turkey poults need double hover space as compared to chicken.

Brooding day old poults can be done using infra red bulbs or gas brooder and traditional brooding systems.

Points to be noted during brooding

  • The floor space requirement for 0-4 weeks is 1.5 sq.ft. per bird.

  • The brooder house should be made ready atleast two days before the arrival of poults.

  • The litter material should be spread in a circular manner with a diameter of 2 mtrs.

  • Poult guard of atleast 1 feet height must be provided to prevent the poults from wandering away from source of heat.

  • Starting temperature is 95 degrees F followed by weekly reduction of 5 degrees F per week upto 4nweeks of age.

  • Shallow waterers should be used.

Turkeys are not the best starters in their life and will really need some tender loving
care to get them safely through the first four weeks of life. The average mortality rate is
6-10% during this period. Young poults by nature are reluctant to eat and drink in the
first few days of life, primarily because of bad eyesight and nervousness. Hence, they
have to be force fed.

How to Force Feed Turkey Chicks/Poults

Starve out problem is one of the major factors for early mortality in poults. So
special care has to be taken for supplying feed and water. In force feeding, milk should be
fed at the rate of 100ml per liter of water and one boiled egg have to be given at the rate
of one per 10 poults up to fifteen days and that will compensate the protein and energy
requirements of the poults.

Poults can be attracted to the feed by gentle tapping of the container with the fingers.
Colored marbles or pebbles placed in feeders and waterers/drinkers will also attract poults towards them.
Since turkeys are fond of greens, some chopped green leaves should also be added to the feed to improve the feed intake.
Also colored egg fillers can be used for the first 2 days as feeders.

How to litter your Turkey Brooder

The common litter materials used for brooding are wood shavings saw dust, paddy husk, chopped saw etc.
The thickness of the litter material should be 2 inch at the beginning and may be increased to 3-4 inch in course of
time by gradual addition. The litter should be raked at frequent intervals to prevent caking.

How to rare turkey on Free Range System in Uganda


  • It reduces the feed cost by fifty percent

  • Low investment

  • Cost benefit ratio is high

In the free range system, in one acre of fenced land we can rear 200-250 adult
turkeys. Shelter should be provided during night at the rate of 3-4 sq.ft. per bird. They
should be protected from predators during scavenging. Planting of trees is desirable for
providing shade and cooler environment. The range should be rotated which will help to
reduce incidence of parasite infestation.

Free range feeding

Since turkeys are very good scavengers, it can consume earthworms, small
insects, snails, kitchen waste and termites, which are rich in protein and that will reduce
the feed cost by fifty percent. Apart from this leguminous fodder like Lucerne,
Desmanthus, Stylo etc., can be fed.

To avoid leg weakness and lameness in free ranging birds, calcium should be supplemented at the rate of 250gm per week per bird in the form
of oyster shell. Ten percent of feed can be substituted with vegetable waste to reduce the cost of feed.

Health cover in free range system

Turkeys in the free range system are highly susceptible for internal (round worms)
and external parasites (fowl mite). Hence once a month you need to deworm and dip as this is essential to
improve the growth of the birds.

How to rare turkey on Intensive system


  • Improved production efficiency

  • Better management and disease control

Housing in Intensive System

  • Housing protects turkeys form sun, rain, wind, predators and provides comfort.

  • In hotter parts of the country the long axis of the house should run from East to West.

  • The distance between two houses should be at least 20 meters and the young stock house should be at least 50 to 100 meters away from the adult house.

  • The width of the open house should not exceed 9 meters.

  • The height of the house may vary from 2.6 to 3.3 meters from the floor to roof.

  • An overhang of one meter should be provided to avoid the rainwater splash.

  • The floor of the houses should be cheap, durable and safe preferably concrete with moisture proof.

When turkeys are reared under deep litter system, the general managemental conditions are similar to that of chicken
but care should be taken to provide adequate floor, waterer/drinker and feeder space to accommodate the large bird.

How to catch and Handle your turkeys

Turkeys of all age group can be easily driven from one place to another with the help of a stick.
For catching turkeys a darkened room is best, wherein they can be picked up with both legs without any injury.
However, mature turkeys should not be kept hanging for more than 3-4 minutes.

The temperament of turkeys is usually nervous; hence they get panicky at all stages.
Hence entry of visitors in to the turkey’s house should be restricted.

How to Feed turkeys in Intensive System

The methods of feeding are mash feeding and pellet feeding.

  • The energy, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements for turkeys are high when compared to chicken.

  • Since the energy and protein requirements for the both sexes vary they must be reared separately for better results.

  • Feed should be given in feeders and not on the ground.

  • Whenever change is made from one diet to another it should be carried out gradually.

  • Turkeys require a constant and clean water supply at all times.

  • Provide more number of waterers during summer.

  • Feed turkeys during the cooler parts of the day during summer.

  • Provide shell, grit at the rate of 30-40 gm per day per bird to avoid the leg weakness.

Green feeding: In intensive system, greens can be fed upto 50% of the total diet on dry mash basis.
Fresh Lucerne is first class green feed for turkeys of all ages. Apart from the Desmanthus and Stylo can be chopped and
fed turkeys to reduce the feed cost.

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