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HomeGrazing ManagementTennessee Farmer Creates Top-Notch Turkey Habitat While Improving Grazing Lands

Tennessee Farmer Creates Top-Notch Turkey Habitat While Improving Grazing Lands

When it comes to understanding and improving turkey habitat restoration, there are few more knowledgeable than farmer Chuck Borum in Pulaski, Tennessee. Borum bought a few hundred acres a decade ago with the intent of raising cattle, but with time, he saw how he could also establish top-notch turkey habitat.

Turkeys roaming free within the protective fences on Chuck Borum’s farm.
Turkeys roaming free within the protective fences on Chuck Borum’s farm.

“Initially, we only had a few turkeys on the farm, and before we knew it, we had a whole slew of them because the programs we had with NRCS helped us establish a safer habitat for them to prosper,” Borum said.

Borum used NRCS’ Environmental Quality Initiatives Program (EQIP) to improve his grazing operation by installing water structures and lines for his livestock and fields. The program enabled him to establish field borders too, which happen to provide excellent habitat for turkeys.

Predators are Borum’s biggest challenge. Foxes, reintroduced red wolves, bobcats, and even possum (who steal turkey eggs) are a constant threat to the habitat. But because of drastic improvements in his natural barriers and fencing, it’s much easier to keep up with the predators, and more importantly, keep them out altogether. He started with 4-strand barbed wire. Late he discovered that 7-strand high tensile fencing worked much  better for keeping predators out and cattle in.

“EQIP has helped me more than any other program I’ve used,” Borum said. “We were able to build field borders and fences around a larger area, which allowed the turkeys to flourish given they had a larger area to roam and were much safer than they had been. Rabbits and quail also gained in population, but it was the turkeys whose numbers grew exponentially.”

Not only is Borum a pioneer in restoring turkey habitat, he is also one of the first in his area to apply for EQIP. Many of the farmers and landowners in the area weren’t even aware of the benefits NRCS programs provide to customers until he made them aware of them. His peers constantly seek him out for help and advice, and because of that, the agency is now inundated with requests for technical and financial assistance.

eqipIn 2013, NRCS recognized Borum as having the Giles County Soil Conservation District Conservation Farm of the Year, an award he cherishes. The award is given to farmers who are well-rounded in the preservation of natural resources.

Borum says even after all his years in working with wildlife and habitat restoration (he worked for the Tennessee Wildlife Refuge Association for nearly 30 years), he’s still excited about what he does every day.

When asked how long he plans to do this, he smiled and responded, “For the rest of my life. I’ve got a pattern now, and I don’t want to mess that up.”

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. Have they had any problems with the Red Wolves getting at there calves? I didn’t know they were in southern middle Tennessee.

    • I’m not aware of problems with calves and Red Wolves. I searched for information and learned that there are only about 100 and found no information indicating that they had harmed livestock.

  2. I’m a little confused, he’s raising domestic turkeys, not just creating wild turkey habitat, correct? A very interesting project, is there anywhere to learn more about it?

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