Young turkeys becoming popular pets in East Tennessee

Families teaching responsibility through poultry adoption
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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CLINTON, Tenn. (WVLT) - Young turkeys called poults are the latest option for families looking to teach responsibility through pet ownership. While the birds could also be considered traditional farm poultry, and even Thanksgiving dinner, the Anderson Farmers Co-op is seeing an interest in the animals as pets.

“They attach themselves to people and other pets. They’re really funny. They’re good pets to have.” said Operations Manager Michelle Hoefer at the Co-op in Clinton. “They like attention. They really will follow you around the house. They’ll come when you call them.”

The youngsters at Andi Harper’s home and farmstead already know the general idea about caring for young poults. “I have chickens I take care of,” said son Dodge. The kids also help care for pigs and horses. Harper’s son Henry knows the birds need, “water and food.” Even 3-year-old Irene is thinking that the poults might be able to eat chicken feed, though the Co-op has a more specialized game bird food that works for turkeys, too.

What are the basics? “You need a box or a tote to put them in. You need heat, water and food are the three basic things they need,” said Hoefer. “And then attention. They like attention.”

Indoors with the extra warmth of a heat lamp is how young turkeys usually begin life. As they mature and grow in all their feathers, they’ll need outdoor space. “This little chick can get up to 50 pounds,” said Hoefer. While the poults can cost as little as eight bucks, supplies and a lifetime of food will cost you many times more. The Co-op and your local UT Extension Service has information to help raising poultry.

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