Can I Raise Chickens and Turkeys or Peafowl Together?

Many people will say that you cannot raise turkeys or peafowl or any game bird with chickens because of Blackhead Disease. But the truth of this statement really varies according to the land on which your birds live and Chickens On The Farm your ability to properly manage parasites in your birds.

What is Blackhead Disease?

Blackhead Disease is the common name for Histomoniasis. I do not know why people call it Blackhead, because there is no blackening or darkening or any issue with infected birds’ heads. The main sign that your birds are suffering from Blackhead is general lethargy, depression, loss of weight, or in younger birds general lack of weight gain and wasting. If not treated, the infected bird will eventually die.

Blackhead Disease in Turkeys, Chickens and other Game Birds

Blackhead is caused by a protozoan, Histomonas meleagridis, which severely damages the liver and cecum, a primary part of the intestine, of turkeys, peafowl, and other game birds. This protozoan is usually inside the eggs/larva of a parasitic cecal worm. The eggs of the cecal worm can last in the soil for up to three years, however, the infection does not usually occur this way. Typically, an earthworm ingests the cecal worm egg and then a bird eats the earthworm. The cecal worm egg and/or larva can live in an earthworm over a year. When birds eat an infected earthworm, the cecal worm larvae containing the protozoa are released. Peacok

Turkeys, peafowl, and game birds like pheasant are very sensitive to these protozoa, and the protozoa thrive in the systems of these types of birds, causing much internal damage. Chickens, on the other hand, may ingest the worms and protozoa but are rather immune to the effects. (Although there have been some cases of chickens being adversely affected by Blackhead, this is very uncommon.) The problem is though that chickens can carry the worms and protozoa and then spread the disease through their droppings. If you only have chickens, no one would ever know that Blackhead is present. If you have turkeys, peafowl, or game birds living with your chickens, specifically with exposure to the chickens’ droppings, then the Blackhead could make your other fowl very sick.

So, if you do not currently have Blackhead on your property, you should not have any problems raising chickens together with turkeys, peafowl, or other game birds. There is no test or way to tell if it is present until you have game birds living with your chickens. Many wild game birds can spread Blackhead, so the disease may creep up on you suddenly. Make a practice of observing your birds. Pick them up and make sure they feel appropriately heavy. Watch them as they move about the yard, and if you see any acting lethargic, depressed, uninterested in foraging, not preening, or with ragged looking feathers, take action. Blackhead can be cured with antiprotozoal medication, such as metronidazole, which specifically would need to be prescribed by a veterinarian and is not labeled for use in turkeys. You may also find commercial turkey feeds that contain a histostat which is a Blackhead preventative.

Note – You should not consume the eggs of birds on antiprotozoal medication. So that means you will have to separate your A beautiful White and Black Turkey puts on a display of all hisinfected birds from your laying chickens.

I first discovered I had Blackhead on my property when my peafowl got sick. They were diagnosed by a veterinarian and were then separated from my chickens and put on the antiprotozoal medication. It worked, but I was worried they would get reinfected by the chickens, and I did not want to keep my peafowl and turkeys separated from the chickens forever. I wanted all my birds to be able to roam the yard freely.

So, I now have them on a schedule where I pen up the peafowl and turkeys in an aviary once a month, separate from my laying chickens, and I deworm them using Wazine. My thinking is that by regularly eliminating the worms, the protozoa should not have a chance to get into their systems. So far this has worked. For over eight years, I have not had any issues with the peafowl; and the turkeys have been fine and truly thriving since I got them three years ago.

Will this work for everybody? Maybe, maybe not… Here are some factors to note… I have a lot of space and a relatively small number of birds, so the Blackhead, if it is still present, would be spread very thin. Also, it may have been a very small infection to begin with, and so it may be gone completely at this point.

The original peafowl that got sick were only two months old, and younger birds are much more susceptible. I am now very careful with young birds, and I do not expose turkey poults or peachicks to ground that chickens were on until they are fully mature.

Also, I am very adamant about keeping my birds all in optimal health.

If you know you have Blackhead on your property, and you currently have chickens, I would suggest that you think hard before adding turkeys or peafowl or other game birds. Would you be able to separate them completely if need be? However, if your property has been chicken-free for a long time, then chances are, you do not have Blackhead present, and you can enjoy diversifying your chicken flock to include turkeys, peafowl, or other game birds!

13 responses to “Can I Raise Chickens and Turkeys or Peafowl Together?”

  1. m nicol says:

    I have never had chickens on my prope4rty and plan to acquire some soon. I do have guineas that are mature and healthy. I thought that I would combine their living quarters which are large and clean. I will have an outside run along with free range on acreage and will put them in for the night.
    Does that sound safe? I just completed my hen house and want to get some heritage chickens. thank you. m

  2. Meghan says:

    Great question! There are no known issues with chickens and guineas, and many people, myself included, have had both successfully together on the same property.

  3. Can I have Guinea, peafowl and turkeys together? Also ducks and geese.

  4. Douglas Buffington says:

    and other Game Birds
    By: Doug Buffington

    …If your Peacock is sick but has no congestion or other symptoms of a respiratory infection, it is highly likely it has a protozoan disease like Coccidiosis, Blackhead, Hexamitiasis or Canker. These deadly protozoan diseases can only be effectively treated with anti-protozoal medications.

    With the exception of Amprolium for Coccidiosis, all anti-protozoal medications have lost their FDA approval as feed additives in animals for human consumption. However, they are still approved for the treatment of animals not used for human consumption.

    FOR TREATING PROTOZOAN DISEASES you will need the antiprotozoals Ronidazole and Furaltadone found in Medpet 4 in 1.

    FURALTADON is an anti-protozoal effective for Coccidiosis only. But, it is also a broad spectrum antibiotic that will treat respiratory and other bacterial infections like Salmonella and E. Coli.

    RONIDAZOLE is an antiprotozoal effective for: Blackhead, Hexamitiasis and Canker.

    In total, MedPet 4 in 1 is effective for the treatment of:

    COCCIDIOSIS, BLACKHEAD, CANKER, HEXAMITIASIS, GIARDIASIS, SALMONELLA, PULLORUM & E. COLI…also Bacterial Gastroenteritis, Fowl Typhoid, Coryza, Colisepticemia, Infectious Synovitis, Pneumonia, Vibrionic Hepatitis, Mycoplasmosis, Colibacillosis, Staphylococcus, Bumblefoot, Air Sac infection, Paratyphoid and Conjunctivitis.

    MedPet 4 in 1 can be purchased from Ebay and Be sure to compare shipping cost along with price. For convenience, purchase the powder that can be mixed with water. But it also comes in tablet form.

    As a preventative, give a wormer with the MedPet 4 in 1 because the deadly protozoans are transmitted by worms. Safeguard, at 1/2 tsp per gallon of water for 3 days is recommended. Combining the Medpet 4 in 1 with the Safe Guard wormer for the same 3 days as the Medpet 4 in 1 preventative treatment will knock down protozoan populations and clean out any subclinical bacterial infections while treating for worms. Mix well. Always keep Vitamin treated and Medicated water out of the sun.

    When treating visably sick birds for the recommended 5 to 7 days, it is a good idea to follow the MedPet 4 in 1 treatment with Probiotics and Vitamins. MedPet 4 in 1 should be half strength for chicks under two weeks old.

    A recommended brand is Poultry Vit Tropical Powder.

    MedPet 4 in 1 can be purchased at:

    WITH HOLD OYSTER SHELL GRIT, CALCIUM AND VITAMINS DURING TREATMENT. They can make the Furaltadone less effective.

  5. Douglas Buffington says:

    For more complete medication info:
    To break the life cycle of parasites for birds not regularly wormed, repeat the worming process in 10 days. Breeders recommend worming every 3 months. Toxicity from overdosing with fenbendazole is remote.

    Administer the wormer every 3 months: Most give the wormer in March before the Peacock laying season and in September when it is over. Be sure to notice the expiration date on the bottle. A fresh bottle will have 2 to 3 years before the expiration. Store it in the refrigerator.

    Safegard Goat Wormer (Fenbendazole…Suspension 10%)
    Use the goat drench that is a white liquid. 3 cc or ½ tsp per gallon of drinking water for 3 days for birds 4 weeks and older. Mix fresh daily.

    Fenbendazole Treatments (Fenbendazole..Suspension 10%)
    One-day Treatment
    1oz Safeguard or Panacur per 15-20 lb feed
    a. Dissolve the Fenbendazole product in one cup of water.
    b. Mix this solution well into the feed and give to the livestock as their only feed source for one day. They do not have to eat the whole 15 to 20lbs. That is just the ratio. If needed, you can half the medication and the feed. Feed for 3 days. Repeat in 10 to 14 days.

    Fenbendazole in Safegaurd controls:
    cecal worms, capillary worms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, the taenia species of tapeworms, pinworms, gape worms, lung worms, flukes, nematode worms and nematode larva. Deadly protozoans are also transmitted by worms.



  6. Douglas Buffington says:

    When comparing feeds it is important to take note of more than the level of Crude Protein at the top of the list on the tag. The Synthetic amino acids Lysine and Methionine should also be under review. These are the “enhanced” proteins that accelerate growth. Many feed producers set their Starter feed levels at the maximum of Lysine at 1.5% and Methionine at .5%. These starters can not be fed for more than 6 weeks without risking an over growth that makes the legs of peacock chicks go lame.

    Many are not aware of the risk of chick overgrowth. Those that are, often begin feeding other rations at 6 weeks that are not medicated for Coccidiosis. The immune systems of Peacock, Pheasant, Turkey and other game birds are not fully developed to resist Coccidiosis until they reach the age of 14 to 16 weeks. So, chicks often go unprotected for the 10 weeks after medicated starters are withdrawn.

    A favorite starter is the medicated, 18% protein Purina Start & Grow. The levels of Lysine and Methionine are adjusted so that the medicated ration may be fed for 20 weeks without the risk of chick overgrowth. This interval will allow the immune systems of your chicks to achieve their maximum maturity.

    There are other benefits of feeding the Purina Start & Grow that are yet to be observed in other starter rations. Not only are the levels of Methionine and Lysine adjusted so the ration can be fed for 20 weeks but Purina Start & Grow also has added Probiotics and Prebiotics.

    Probiotics are micro organisms that support the growth, health and immune system development in chicks. The added Prebiotics are not digested by the chick but rather feed the Probiotics to sustain their presence. The constant presence of Probiotics and Prebiotics in the starter feed will quickly restore their levels when they are depleted by the use of antibiotics.

    HERE IS THE TAKE AWAY on the Purina Start & Grow.
    1. The crude protein level is 18% ……Can be fed for 20 weeks
    2. The amino acids Lysine and Methionine are adjusted to safely sustain
    growth for 20 weeks to allow for the maximum development of the
    immune system while the medication protects against Coccidiosis.
    3. Probiotics and Prebiotics are added to Start & Grow to promote Health,
    Growth and Immune system development.
    (continued next page)
    Remember, it is Purina Medicated Start & Grow that you want to feed (red bag). The “medicated” Game Bird Starter & Grower is actually a renaming of the Purina Turkey Starter and Purina says it is not recommended for Peacock. The “medication” in the Game Bird Starter is not for Coccidiosis or any other disease. It is an enhancer that makes the intestines more easily absorb the feed to accelerate growth. What many Peacock breeders fail to grasp is that the Game Bird Starter & Grower is for release and shoot Pheasants that growers want to speed to the field. We are also not trying to speed the peacock to the Thanksgiving table. Feeding the “medicated” Purina Game Bird Starter & Grower leaves the Peachick unprotected against Coccidiosis and speeds them toward poor leg development.


    Purina Start & Grow Medicated

    Crude Protein (min.) 18%
    Crude Fat (min.) 3%
    Crude Fiber (max.) 5%
    Lysine (min.) 0.88%
    Calcium (Ca) (min.) 0.75%
    Calcium (Ca) (max.) 1.25%
    Phosphorus (P) (min.) 0.55%
    Salt (NaCl) (min.) 0.35%
    Salt (NaCl) (max.) 0.85
    Vitamin A (min.) 5000 IU/lb.
    Vitamin E (min.) 14IU/lb.
    Methionine (min.) 0.32
    Phytase (A. Oryzae) (min.) 227 FYT/lb.

  7. Douglas, Thank you for your information! We are excited to integrate some of your comment into our Care Guide!

  8. Hi LaDonna, You can certainly raise all of these breeds together on one property. However, I would not suggest housing the turkeys with any other type of poultry. The Guineas, Peafowl, Ducks, and Geese would all be just fine together, but you would want to make sure you have plenty of space to make sure everyone stays happy and healthy. I hope this helps!

  9. Becky says:

    Great post. Answered my questions. Thank you!

  10. Douglas Buffington says:

    Anyone who has poultry will also have Coccidiosis and Blackhead protozoan in their stock and in the soil. It is all over the world in both commercial and in everyday settings. Wazine is only good for large round worms. The Blackhead protozoan is attached to Cecal worms. Wazine will not control Cecal worms or Blackhead protozoans. Nor will it control the Hair Worms and Gapeworms that are common among poultry. There is nothing about a chicken that will help a Turkey or Peacock. If anyone is serious about keeping these birds they will not have chickens mingling among them. Chickens are resistant reservoirs of deadly protozoans, worms and bacterial disease that Turkeys, Peacocks are less resistant to. It takes a full 16 weeks for a Peacock and a Turkey’s immune system to fully develop. But it still will not react to protozoans, worms and bacterial disease with the same strength as that of a chicken’s immune system that has been raised in captivity for 10,000 years.

  11. Douglas Buffington says:

    ALL – IN – ONE
    Ingredients: Ronidazole, Amprolium, Levasole, Tylan
    VITA-PRO COMBO PACK OF: Electrolytes… Amino Acids…Vitamins…Probiotics
    1. ROUNDWORMS… droopiness, weight loss, diarrhea
    2. CAPILLARY WORMS… oral inflammatory masses, hemorrhagic inflammation of commissure of beak… droopiness, weight loss
    3. CECAL WORMS..unthrifty, weakness, weight loss
    4. GAPEWORMS… worms in the trachea, yawning, gasping
    1. Bacterial Gastroenteritis 7. Conjunctivitis
    2. Coryza 8. Mycoplasmosis
    3. Air Sac infection 9. Colibacillosis
    4. Colisepticemia 10. Staphylococcus
    5. Infectious Synovitis 11. Bumblefoot
    6. Pneumonia 12. E-Coli

    DOSAGE: 2 tsp per gallon for 5 days. Follow with Safeguard Goat Wormer in 10 days.

  12. Douglas Buffington says:


    Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
    A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism (referred to as the host) and gains an advantage at the expense of that organism. The two types of internal parasites that affect poultry are worms and protozoa. Usually, low levels of infestation do not cause a problem and can be left untreated. Clinical signs of a parasite infestation include unthriftiness, poor growth and feed conversion, decreased egg production, and, in severe cases, death. Also, parasites can make a flock more susceptible to diseases or worsen a current disease condition.


    Roundworms (nematodes) are common in poultry, waterfowl, and wild birds. Species of roundworms that affect poultry include species of large roundworms (Ascaris sp., also known as ascarids), species of small roundworms (Capillaria sp., also known as capillary worms or threadworms), and cecal worms (Heterakis gallinarum). Roundworms can cause significant damage to the organ(s) they infest. Most roundworms affect the digestive tract; others affect the trachea (windpipe) or eyes.
    Large roundworms are the most damaging of the worms common to backyard flocks. A severe infestation can cause a reduction in nutrient absorption, intestinal blockage, and death. Easily seen with the naked eye, large roundworms are about the thickness of a pencil lead and grow to 4-1/2 inches long. Occasionally, they migrate up a hen’s reproductive tract and become included in a developing egg. The life cycle of a roundworm is direct; that is, worm eggs are passed in the droppings of infected birds and then directly to birds that consume contaminated feed, water, or feces. Also, worm eggs may be picked up by snails, slugs, earthworms, grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches, earwigs, and other insects. Known as intermediate hosts, these insects carry the eggs and when eaten by a bird pass the eggs to the bird. Identifying and minimizing the number of intermediate hosts that poultry have contact with helps prevent the birds from being infected with worms. Because approved wormer medication in poultry is limited, you should check the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Approved Animal Drug Products list (known as the Green Book) for currently approved medication. Medication containing the active ingredient piperazine is available for use against large roundworms in poultry but is not effective against other internal parasites of poultry. As with all medications, read the label concerning dose to administer and withdrawal period before consumption of eggs or harvesting for meat.
    Several species of small roundworms can affect different parts of birds and cause a variety of symptoms. Species that infect the crop and esophagus cause thickening and inflammation of the mucus membranes located there. Turkeys and game birds are most commonly affected by such species, and producers can suffer severe losses due to these parasites. Other species of small roundworms are found in the lower intestinal tract and cause inflammation, hemorrhage, and erosion of the intestinal lining. Heavy infestations result in reduced growth, reduced egg production, and reduced fertility. Severe infestations can lead to death. If present in large numbers, these worms can be seen during necropsy (examination after death). Small roundworm eggs are very small and difficult to see in bird droppings without a microscope. Medications that contain Levamisole are effective in treating small roundworms as well as other worms common to Peacocks and poultry.

    Cecal worms are commonly found in chickens turkeys, Pheasants and Peacocks. As the name implies, they grow in the ceca (two blind pouches at the junction of the small and large intestines). Although cecal worms typically do not affect chickens, the worms can carry Histomonas melegridis, a species of protozoan parasite that causes histomoniasis (blackhead) in turkeys. Turkeys, Peacock and Pheasants can contract histomoniasis by eating chicken manure containing infected cecal worm eggs or earthworms that have ingested infected cecal worm eggs. So, although chickens generally are immune to problems caused by cecal worms, controlling the worms is still important for Peacock, Turkey and Pheasant health as well as chickens. Levamisole is effective in controlling cecal worms.

    Several species of tapeworms (cestodes) affect poultry. They range in size from very small (not visible to the naked eye) to more than 12 inches long. Tapeworms are made up of multiple flat sections. The sections are shed in groups of two or three daily. Each section of tapeworm contains hundreds of eggs, and each tapeworm is capable of shedding millions of eggs in its lifetime. Each species of tapeworm attaches to a different section of the digestive tract. A tapeworm attaches itself by using four pairs of suckers located on its head. Most tapeworms are host specific, with chicken tapeworms affecting only chickens, and so on. Tapeworms require an intermediate host to complete their life cycle. These intermediate hosts include ants, beetles, houseflies, slugs, snails, earthworms, and termites. For birds kept in cages, the most likely host is the housefly. For those raised on litter, intermediate hosts include termites and beetles. For free-range birds, snails and earthworms can serve as intermediate hosts. There are no approved medications for use against tapeworms, so controlling the intermediate hosts of tapeworms is vital in preventing initial infections and reducing the risk of reinfection. If you get a laboratory diagnosis of tapeworm infection, always ask which tapeworm species is causing the infection and which intermediate host is involved in the parasite’s life cycle. Because the intermediate hosts for tapeworms vary greatly, it is important to identify the tapeworm species to target prevention efforts toward the correct intermediate hoast. Tapeworms are not a common poultry parasite.

    Protozoa are single-celled organisms found in most habitats, and they include some parasitic pathogens of humans and domestic animals. Coccidia live and reproduce in the digestive tract, where they cause tissue damage. This damage reduces nutrient and fluid absorption and causes diarrhea and blood loss. Coccidiosis (infection with or disease caused by Coccidia) can increase a bird’s susceptibility to other important poultry diseases, such as necrotic enteritis. Coccidia are in nearly all poultry.

    Chicks develop immunity to coccidiosis over time, with most severe cases occurring when chicks are three to six weeks old. Signs of coccidiosis include bloody diarrhea, watery diarrhea, abnormal feces, weight loss, lethargy, ruffled feathers, and other signs of poor health. Most store-bought starter feeds contain medication that controls but does not eliminate coccidia. Eating such feed allows young birds to develop resistance to the Coccidia prevalent in their environment. However, if the birds are exposed to a different species of Coccidia, they will not have immunity, and disease symptoms may result. A common medication for controlling Coccidiosis in birds not fed medicated feed is Amprolium. As mentioned above, following the instructions for administration is important for proper drug delivery and bird recovery. Vaccines are currently available that give newly hatched birds a small amount of exposure to Coccidia, allowing them to develop immunity without developing the disease. Coccidia is the most common protozoan but there are three others that will infect Peacocks, Turkey and Pheasants. They are: Canker, Heximata and the deadly Blackhead. Outbreaks of these protozoans can be treated with Medpet 4 in 1. This medication will also treat Coccidiosis.

    Lastly, it is not a good practice to house or range Peacocks, Turkeys or Pheasants with chickens or in areas where chickens have been during the previous three years. Chickens are resistant carriers of worms, protozoans and a number of bacterial diseases.

  13. H. Arang says:

    Thank you for the information.

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