Each day, farmers check the barns where the turkeys are raised. The farmer walks through the temperature and humidity-controlled barns to check that the birds are comfortable and healthy. Turkeys do not live in cages; they are protected from our harsh climate in barns where they can move around freely. Turkeys raised in Canada are housed according to national codes of practice or the care and handling of farm animals.
Young turkeys, called poults, arrive on the farm from a hatchery and grow to market weight with other birds as part of a flock. Once birds go to market, all the bedding and manure is taken out of the barn, and the building is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the next flock of birds arrives. This approach helps prevent disease and keeps the flock healthy.
Not just anyone can walk through a turkey barn. This is because turkey farmers need to protect their birds from outside germs that could easily spread through the flock. As well, farmers are required to adhere to standards for food safety and the care and handling of turkeys. All turkey farmers in Canada follow a national On-Farm Food Safety Program and Animal Care Program, recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and National Farm Animal Care Council.
Poults need to be very warm so they can stay healthy and can grow. The temperature of the barn changes depending on how old the poults are. When they are young the barns are kept very warm. When the poults are 10 days old the barn temperature is set at 27.8 degrees Celsius. Proper ventilation helps to regulate the temperature and keep the birds comfortable. This barn also has heaters that are used year- round to help maintain the proper temperature for the poults.
The floor is covered with fine wood shavings or straw. This acts as bedding for the poults. It’s easy on their growing legs and feet and soft enough for them to settle down and sleep. Straw is lightweight and absorbent, but also very comfortable to walk and sleep on.
The lighting helps the poults find their food and water easily. They have constant access to nutritional, balanced food and water.
Running the length of the barn are several long pipes set close to the floor. The orange and white pipes are the feeders, where the poults go to eat their feed, called a ration. The red and yellow pipes are for water where the poults can get a drink when they’re thirsty.
Turkeys have access to fresh water and feed 24 hours a day. The turkeys can access food or water simply by wandering over to a feed pan or water bowl. The turkeys will stay in the barn until they are 16 weeks (about 3 and a half months) old. At which time they’ll be sent for processing.