Turkey Farming vs. Chicken Farming: The Major Differences

Happy Thanksgiving! It's high time we give our hard-working turkey farmers the attention they deserve. Here are some of the main differences between turkey farming and chicken farming.
Turkey Farming vs. Chicken Farming: The Major Differences



Let's talk turkey!

On our Poultry Biosecurity blog and YouTube channel, we mostly focus on chickens and chicken farming. But plenty of our subscribers raise turkey! So, in honor of Thanksgiving, turkeys and the amazing farmers who make it all possible, we wanted to take some time to talk about turkey.

Differences Between Turkey Farming and Chicken Farming

Turkey Aggression

One of the most interesting differences between chicken and turkey is that around week 17 or 18, turkeys start to get aggressive. At around 40 pounds, these turkey toms can get quite feisty! One farmer who works with us says she won't even go around them at that point. They also tend to congregate and will pack around you if you enter the house, which chickens don't really do.

Longer Grow-Out

The biggest difference between raising chickens and turkeys is likely the longevity of the birds' growth. Usually, the longest chicken grow-out is nine weeks, while turkeys can be up to 20 weeks, at around 50 pounds. The turkeys we eat around the holidays grow for around 15 weeks, and the 20-week turkeys are grown for breast meat and other parts.

Cleaning Practices

With a longer grow-out, turkey farmers are dealing with much heavier mortality. Chicken farmers are used to carrying 10-pound birds to their stack house—imagine hauling a 50-pound bird instead!

Also due to the long growing period, turkey farmers don't get to clean their houses as often. This means they have to stay on top of cleaning throughout the 20 weeks. They'll have to wait that long before getting a full clean out!

Amount of Flocks

Turkey farmers get around three flocks per year, but chicken farmers who grow a smaller bird (like those for your favorite fast food restaurant) have six to seven flocks per year.

Despite these differences, turkey and chicken farmers alike deal with similar issues, like dermatitis (or cellulitis in turkey). All poultry growers have to stay on top of biosecurity practices to maintain healthy birds and profitable farms!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are always thankful for our farmers, but want to extend a special thanks to turkey growers this week! We wish you all a warm, blessed, happy Thanksgiving.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Allen at allen@southlandorganics.com! If you want to stay up to date on our content made just for poultry growers, subscribe to our Poultry Biosecurity YouTube channel. 

About the Author

Izy Dobbins

Isabella (Izy) Dobbins

Marketing Manager

This was written by Isabella (Izy) Dobbins, Southland Organics' Marketing Manager. Izy has devoted her education and career to communicating science-related topics. With an enthusiasm for sharing accurate and honest content relating to science and agriculture, she ensures Southland Organics' publications are as informative as they are interesting. Izy graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in advertising, minors in both Spanish and environmental health science and a Certificate in Sustainability. She has been working at Southland Organics since 2021.

Learn more about Izy Dobbins

Erin Flowers

Copywriter and Editor

This was edited by Erin Flowers. As a writer and editor, Erin keeps a close eye on the details. Erin thoroughly researches each topic, fact checking and source searching to give our readers helpful resources for raising chickens, homesteading, and growing lawns and gardens. Erin graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in advertising. She began working with Southland Organics in 2018.

Learn more about Erin Flowers

Erin Flowers
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