When the temperatures and humidity rise, insects such as ticks start to appear around your farm and home. One easy and natural way to control ticks is with turkeys. One of the biggest benefits of having a flock of turkeys on your farm is that each bird can eat around 200 ticks each day.
The turkey’s natural and sometimes aggressive foraging ability means they are constantly picking up a wide variety of pest insects, including the tick. Additionally, turkeys can help keep small rodent, small lizard, and small snake populations down in your fields and around your barn or coop, which is a bonus to their foraging abilities.
Do Turkeys Eat Ticks? Turkeys do eat ticks. Turkeys can eat as many as 200 ticks a day and can help make a huge dent in the tick population on your property. Keeping a small flock of turkeys on your property or ensuring you have a flock of wild turkeys on your farm can help keep tick numbers under control each year.
Juvenile turkeys are the best to use for tick control as they are naturally drawn to small moving insects. The smaller size and high agility of juvenile turkeys also help them move in and out of even thick brush and brambles to find tick populations that larger birds may not be able to.
Turkeys are constant foragers and wander through the grass with their heads down low, giving them an excellent view of ticks and other insect pests that may be found on your property.
Do Turkeys Carry Ticks?
Almost all animals, including turkeys, can host a tick. Ticks are opportunistic external parasites and will attempt to latch on to any warm body that comes near. However, turkeys are much less likely than chickens or other animals to harbor a large number of ticks. Most of that is because turkeys will eat any ticks they find during their normal self-grooming procedures.
Chickens and other poultry also self-groom but may not eat the tick once it is found. Additionally, other poultry species may not self-groom as often as turkeys do, which leaves more opportunities for ticks to find safer spots to latch onto and start laying eggs. Since turkeys are very good at keeping their own bodies tick-free, the chances are much lower for free-range turkeys to carry tick populations from one part of your property to another.
Are Ticks A Danger To Have On Your Property?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), ticks are known carriers of 16 diseases within the United States. They affect humans and animals. Diseases carried by ticks that can infect humans include:
- Lyme Disease
Diseases transmitted by ticks may cause symptoms as mild as a localized rash to as severe as joint infections, cardiac distress, and even death if left untreated.
Having some ticks on your property does not pose an immediate danger to you or your family because not all types of ticks are disease carriers. And, not all individual ticks are infected. But, allowing a tick population to turn into an infestation can lead to issues over time. One of the best natural ways to prevent a tick infestation is by keeping the numbers low around your home, farm, or property.
Ticks can pose a genuine problem to pets, livestock, and local wildlife. Young animals that are being used as a host by a large number of ticks can quickly become anemic. If left untreated, anemia can cause lethargy, weight loss, organ failure, and death. Domestic dogs and cats are just as susceptible to this risk as newborn cattle, sheep, and goats may be.
Egg production can also be lowered or even stopped by an infestation of ticks on your farm. Chickens and ducks are not as good as turkeys when it comes to self-grooming and ridding themselves of ticks. If left untreated, the anemia caused by multiple biting ticks can lead to a slower egg-laying rate and other health issues. Young birds are much more affected by this than healthy adults in their prime, but ensuring your laying flock is protected from ticks is vital.
What Animal Eats The Most Ticks?
Most poultry will eat ticks on your property, including chickens, turkeys, quail, pheasant, and partridge. Ducks and geese will also eat ticks, but this usually only happens due to your ducks eating weeds and other plant matter the tick might be on.
A wide range of farms have turned to guineas to control tick populations. However, guineas can also be extremely loud and annoying for neighbors living close by. While guineas are highly effective at keeping tick populations low and can also be used as early warning systems for other predators, not everyone enjoys listening to their sounds.
Quail, pheasant, and partridge are other good options for keeping tick populations low, but keeping them may require permits from your state or province. While they are all rather quiet and can be easy to keep quail, pheasant, and partridge count as game birds in the United States and may have restrictions on how many you can keep at one time. You may also not be able to free-range them on your property, limiting their potential for keeping tick populations under control.
- Guinea Fowl
Other Natural Ways To Control Ticks
While keeping turkeys is a natural and great way to control a local tick population, there are other steps you can take to help control ticks.
- Keep grass mowed and shrubs trimmed.
Keeping your lawn and landscaping maintained will eliminate places ticks can hide around your property.
- Reduce leaf piles and dead plant litter
Ticks love dark and moist areas. Keeping your leaf and plant litter contained in a compost bin will remove tick nesting areas.
- Eliminate trash and other areas that attract rodents
Rodents are carriers of ticks and diseases. Eliminate rodent nesting areas around your property to limit the number of ticks you might find effectively.
- Restrict deer access to your property
Deer can carry a large number of ticks onto your property. Place fencing or other deer deterrents to keep them away from your home and yard.
- Keep woodpiles neatly stacked and dry.
Ticks, rodents, and other pests love woodpiles. Keeping your wood piles dry and neatly stacked will reduce the number of pests on and around them.
- Don’t overwater your lawn.
The extra moisture in the soil and on the plants can attract ticks to the area. Keep your lawn watered, but try not to overwater it.
Ticks and many other pests deek out dark and moist places. This includes areas under a deck or porch, basements or garages, and heavily mulched landscaping. Eliminating or reducing these areas on your property can naturally lower the number of ticks you have around.
Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed can allow natural sunlight to penetrate the soil making your yard less desirable to ticks.
Turkeys come in a range of different breeds, colors, and even sizes. They are easy to keep, easy to feed, and in comparison to guineas, turkeys can be much quieter. They also don’t usually require permits to keep and can be free-ranged on your property, giving turkeys full access to any tick-infested areas they can find.
If ticks are a concern on your property, consider keeping a small flock of turkeys around to control them. Turkeys are an all-natural and very effective solution to tick control. A flock of 10 turkeys has the potential to eat 2,000 ticks a day.