Poultry Husbandry Department
Turkey, Poultry, Sorghum, Prosa, Grain
Turkeys have long been used to range stubble fields of wheat, oats, and barley in South Dakota. In so doing, they salvage much grain that would otherwise be wasted. This is one reason why turkey production fits in well with the grain farming in the state. In these experiments, it was thought advisable to go one step further and not only salvage waste grains, but to let the birds harvest the grains themselves. Sooner milo, feterita, amber cane, and proso millet were the grains selected for the trials. The three sorghums were selected as being representative of this crop, which has increased enormously in the number of acres planted. Sorghums are estimated to occupy about 10 percent of the state’s entire cultivated area. Their drouth-resistance and other desirable features are well recognized by South Dakota farmers. Proso millet, while not a sorghum, was included in these experiments because it is an emergency crop. Proso has a short growing period and a low water requirement. The hogging-off of corn and other grains is an established practice. “Turkeying-off” is the term used to describe a similar practice with turkeys. As this is written, there is a scarcity of farm labor. The “turkeying-off” of grain is a labor-saving practice. Its value has been studied at the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station for the past three years. The study is not complete; the results are those obtained to date. Further research may change the picture. The turkeying-off of grains requires planning. For example, the turkeys allowed in a field of ripe standing grain should be able to harvest it all without undue waste, and also plantings should be planned so as to have a succession of grains available for the birds to harvest.
South Dakota State State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Agricultural Experiment Station
Wilson, W. O. and Poley, W. E., "Turkeying off Sorghums and Proso: A Progress Report" (1942). Agricultural Experiment Station Circulars. 35.