Can turkeys and chickens be housed together?
I recently moved to Maine, and purchased nearly 25 acres. My husband and I purchased chickens last year and planned to raise turkeys this year. I’m reading that turkeys and chickens cannot be housed together because of Blackhead Disease. Is this true?
Chickens can be carriers of Blackhead disease. It is complicated. Blackhead is caused by a protozoa that is carried by an internal parasite and can also be carried in earthworms. Turkeys that eat the manure of chickens infected with Blackhead or earthworms infected with Blackhead will get sick and there is a high risk of mortality (70% to 100%). Housing and pasturing chickens and turkeys together is a risk to the turkeys. You will hear from some people who have been very lucky and not lost their turkeys to this disease when they are kept with chickens. Ducks and geese are immune so wild populations could spread this disease to domestic flocks. Here is some information on Blackhead from eXtension.org that includes some preventative suggestions, but “It is recommended that turkeys not be ranged on pasture used by chickens within the past three years.” While the incidence of Blackhead may be lower than other diseases it is a risk that can be alleviated (but not completely removed) by not housing chickens and turkeys together. If you get turkeys I would recommend that they not be housed together with the chickens.