Turkeys tend to be fairly winter hardy birds to raise and do well in the snow to a certain degree, however there are some aspects you will want to make sure your are keeping in mind while trying to raise turkeys in a cold winter climate.
Make sure your roots fits for dealing with winter.
When keeping turkeys, the nature of turkeys is the first consideration we should take into account when planning on caring for turkeys through the winter. Turkeys are inquisitive and may easily become bored when confined to small pens. They like to range, and this exercise helps to keep muscles toned, generates body heat, and increases appetite. They like to roost at night, which provides them with protection from predators. While roosting, they will huddle together, thus keeping each other warm. For a roost location, they naturally seek out a location with fresh, moving air — this provides plenty of oxygen, whisks away moisture, and prevents ammonia from manure from damaging lung tissue. They need a supply of fresh feed and water to remain healthy.
Roosts should be made of 2 x 4 boards turned so that they are 2″ high and 4″ across. Setting the roost boards in this way ensures that the turkeys have plenty of support for their breastbones and ensures that their feet are covered and kept warm as they sleep — preventing frostbite to toes.
Keep the water fresh and unfrozen
While you may worry about frozen waddles or other bits on the bird, really keeping that water as fresh, clean, and accessable as possible is that major concern when dealing with cold, long winters. Turkeys tend to loose a lot of their internal moaitsure as they exhale and therefore need to be able to replenish it as frequently as possible. They also need that water to help them digest food and deal with temperture control as they lack the sweat glands to deal with it through persperation. Buckets can be used as waterers in areas that freeze. it is suggested to emptying the buckets at night and filling again in the morning. If possible, watering a second time in the afternoon is advisable. Buckets can be turned upside down in the sun and usually will thaw enough for the ice to slip out. Buckets can also be brought into a warm location, such as a cellar, and allowed to thaw enough to empty. If your turkeys are penned near a location with electricity, which is also covered from the weather, a heater can be used to prevent their drinking water from freezing. If a fresh moving stream is to be the water source, keep in mind that during low temperatures the turkeys can suffer frostbite to their wet toes and feet. Folks have lost many birds before whose feet actually froze in this way.
Frostbite can happen
Turkeys can also suffer frostbite to their faces and snoods. But in most cases, turkeys that choose to sleep in the open will tuck their heads under one wing during extreme cold or weather. Turkeys in pens are more prone to frostbite of the face and snood due to lower exercise level—which causes the circulatory system to run slower than when exercising—and to increased moisture in the air. Frostbite of the face and snood is much more likely when the moisture whisks away body heat faster, just like water does to hypothermia victims.
We often think of keeping turkeys and other poultry warm in winter. But what we really need to do is keep the air fresh and moving, preventing both ammonia and moisture buildup, and give them ample opportunity to exercise. If we provide plenty of fresh food and unfrozen water to drink, the turkeys will fair quite well despite cold temperatures.