Springtime in Maine often comes with lots of new arrivals. Whether you are buying young livestock or they are born on your farm, you need to keep them warm, clean, and free from drafts. With day old turkeys (called poults) and chicks, they need to be kept in a warm brooder, at 95 degrees for the first week. We use a securely fastened heat lamp for every 25 birds. If they are warm enough, they will be spread out and look content. If they are too cold, you will find them piled up together. The danger in this is the weaker ones get smothered and you begin to find dead chicks. We use the infrared 250 watt bulbs. Lower watts may not be enough heat, and the red color calms the chicks. The harsh, white light bulbs can increase agitation and squabbling.
You will also want to make sure to have several different sizes of feeders and watering stations available. When they are small you need them in an area where they can reach the feeding and watering stations. As the poults and chicks grow they need more space to eat and drink, and will need larger capacity feeders.
You can decrease the temperature by 5 degrees weekly by raising the height of the heat lamps until they are ready to go outside. Generally, in the springtime this will be when they are 4 weeks old and they are fully feathered. You can certainly let them free range, but only do so when you are there to supervise them because a predator can sneak in and take one or more. We keep the young turkeys in a fenced in area covered with chicken wire to keep any aerial birds of prey out. We have had a hawk in the spring sitting on the outdoor run looking for its next meal but the 1 inch chicken wire over the top prevented that. While chickens will usually return to their coop for the night, turkeys will not. For their own protection, young turkeys must be put inside for the night until they are large enough to go to the main pasture and be outside full time.