Incubating turkey eggs is a process that takes time and patience, but it is worth it to see those little poults hatch and grow into adults. In this article, we will discuss the basics of incubating turkey eggs and provide some tips to help you get started.
Things required for incubating turkey eggs
The first step to incubating turkey eggs is to ensure you have everything you need to get the job done. This includes everything from a fully functioning incubator to fertile turkey eggs, candler, thermometer and hygrometer.
1. Egg Incubator
The number one piece of equipment you need is an egg incubator. An egg incubator can be purchased or homemade. If you are looking for a commercial incubator, we recommend the Brinsea Ovation 56 EX Egg Incubator.
This is a great low-cost option for any small backyard flock. If you prefer to build your own, we have an extensive incubator post that covers the many options out there. In a nutshell, as long as it is thermostatically controlled and has proper humidity, you’re golden!
2. Fertile Turkey Eggs
Another vital thing you need is fertile turkey eggs! Whether you are purchasing or collecting turkey eggs from your flock, the goal is to hatch turkey poults. Make sure you know the difference between fertile eggs and infertile eggs. Infertile eggs will not hatch. This is why you need to check for egg fertility through the candling method.
3. Candling Device
This is a piece of equipment that is used to check the fertility of turkey eggs. This is a vital device because you need to know if the eggs are fertile, infertile or dead.
You can purchase a turkey egg candler online or at most farm supply stores. If you do not own one, you will want to use a bright light source and hold the egg close to your eye to give you a visual image of what is inside the egg.
If you want to buy a turkey egg candler, we recommend the Brinsea Ovascope Egg Viewer.
4. Thermometer and Hygrometer
A thermometer and hygrometer are absolutely essential to the incubation process. A thermometer is a device that measures the temperature in the incubator while a hygrometer is a tool or device that measures the humidity within the incubator.
Both are critical for you to keep a close eye on the temperature and humidity of your turkey eggs during the incubation process. The thermometer is your guide to how warm or cold your incubator is and the hygrometer tells you the amount of water vapor in the incubator.
You need to know the temperature inside your incubator to know if the temperature is right for the chicks. If the temperature is too low, the incubation process will not work and the chicks will not hatch.
We recommend the Triplett RHT22 Digital Indoor Hygro-Thermometer and SMARTRO SC42 Professional Digital Hygrometer and Thermometer which are economical and will still accurately give you the temperature and humidity inside the incubator in real-time. Again, this is the cheapest option; you can certainly upgrade if you want.
How long does it take for turkey eggs to hatch?
For someone that wants to incubate and hatch turkey eggs, it is important to know the turkey egg hatching time or turkey incubation period.
Turkey eggs take 28 days to hatch. Hence, the incubation period for turkey eggs is 28 days. The eggs, however, should be kept at 99.5oF or 37.5oC and 55-60% relative humidity (RH).
How to Incubate Turkey Eggs
Step 1: Check if the Eggs are Fertile or Not
Only fertile eggs can develop and hatch. To avoid wasting your time, energy and money, it is very important to check the fertility status of the turkey eggs that you want to incubate.
You can tell whether turkey eggs are fertile or not by candling them. Candling is the process of using bright light to illuminate the contents of an egg. Candling is the safest and simplest method of checking the fertility of an egg. The device or instrument used for egg candling is called an egg candler.
Candling will allow you to see inside the egg and determine if there is a developing embryo inside or not. You can do this by holding the egg up to a light source, such as a flashlight. A developing embryo will look like a black dot on one end of the egg. The size of the black spot is a good indication of how far along the embryo is. The black area will gradually become bigger and bigger.
If you see a white ring around the black dot then the egg most likely is not fertile and needs to be thrown out. If the egg is fertile, the embryo will start to grow, then move into the air space at the large end of the shell.
Read more about Egg Candling here
Step 2: Set up and prepare the incubator
If you are interested in hatching turkey eggs, it’s best to use an egg incubator, particularly if you don’t plan to leave all of the responsibility of hatching to the turkey hen. Before you even begin to use the device, you’ll need to:
- Make sure it is hygienic for use and that you’ve properly cleaned and sanitized it.
- After the incubator has been cleaned, heat the device for 24 hours before the placement of any eggs.
- Add enough water to maintain the right level of moisture (humidity) as well as place a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor the temperature and humidity respectively.
Step 3: Pre-incubation steps
Now you are ready to use the incubator. However, you still have a couple of key steps you’ll want to take to ensure high hatchability.
- Take any warm eggs that have just been laid and clean up any accumulated dirt or residue on the shell with a clean cloth.
- Next, pre-store the eggs for at least 12 hours at around 60oF or 16oC. Pre-storing the turkey eggs before incubation is helpful as it makes the eggs more resilient to handling.
- In addition, before incubation begins, you’ll want to preheat the eggs for 12 hours as well. Warm the incubator to 72oF or 22oC to ensure hatching.
The Incubation Period for Stored Eggs
If you place your eggs in storage, you should add one hour for each day that the egg is stored. Therefore, when hatching turkey eggs, the normal incubation period lasts 28 days. If the egg has been in storage, say, for two days, then the incubation period would last 28 days and two hours.
Step 4: Setting and incubating the eggs
After you complete the preparatory steps, heat the incubator to 99.5oF or 37.5oC. Place each egg in the incubator. Don’t try to adjust the incubator to a higher temperature if it falls below the above-stated temperature or you could find your eggs cooked instead of hatched. The temperature drop is natural as any cooler eggs introduced in the incubator will cause the air temperature to cool as well.
Step 5: Turning the eggs
During the incubation period, you should turn your turkey eggs around five times each day. Make sure you turn the eggs an odd number of times to ensure that the egg is not lying on the same side every night.
Rotate each egg a full 180 degrees, washing your hands before turning them. Cleaning your hands is important as they contain oils that can penetrate the eggshell which can harm the baby turkeys. So, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before handling or turning the eggs.
Stop turning the eggs about three days before they are due to hatch, or around day 24 of the 28-day incubation period. In addition, make sure that the relative humidity level during hatching is around 68-70 percent.
Step 6: Hatching of the eggs to poults
The turkey poults may take as long as ten hours to fully hatch and break out of their shells. Hence, don’t try to speed up the process by helping them as doing so may harm them. Wait for 8-12 hours before removing the poults from the incubator.
By following the above steps, you will find hatching turkey eggs can be a fun and rewarding process.
A turkey egg incubator is an important piece of equipment for anyone raising turkeys. By providing the right environment for the eggs to hatch, you can ensure that your poults will have the best chance at a healthy life.
Try out this Turkey Egg Incubation Calculator
Raising Your Newly Hatched Baby Turkeys (Poults)
Turkeys have been considered a holiday delicacy for many years. However, this has changed over the years as more and more Americans become increasingly health-conscious. Thanks to improvements in rearing and meat-processing technologies, rearing turkeys has become a year-round affair. These huge birds are natives of North America and have been found to have the leanest meat among all domestic bird species.
Turkey poults love heat or warmth. A good source of heat is a must-have for an aspiring turkey farmer. Turkey poults are happiest at a temperature of 37°C, especially during the first week of their lives. The temperature should be lowered by one degree every week. This should continue until they are four to five weeks or until they attain full feathers. The behavior of the birds will be a clear indicator of whether they are comfortable or not. If they huddle together near the heat lamp, then, they are pretty cold. If they move far away from the heat source, they are too hot. If comfortable with the heat setting of the lamp, they should be evenly spread out.
Always keep them dry and clean. Avoid smooth surfaces, especially those that are lined with newspapers. Raising turkeys on such a floor tends to result in sick birds since they eat their bedding. Concrete surfaces are the best.
Raising turkeys on the ground that was previously used to rear chickens is an absolute no. Birds pass a certain type of parasite/worm through their systems. The parasite does not affect birds. However, insufficient amounts could prove to be fatal. The parasite/worm causes blackhead or histomoniasis in turkeys. It attacks the liver and the intestines of the turkey causing a blackened head. Bright or luminous yellow excrement is a clear indication of blackheads in turkeys. If you cannot rear hens and turkeys on separate grounds, then ensure that you de-worm the turkeys every six weeks and use lime to treat areas that previously held the birds.
Get spotlights to hang over the feeders/drinkers during the first week after the poults hatch. Poults have very poor eyesight during their first week and as such, they might not be able to locate water and food in the drinkers/feeders. This might result in mysterious deaths, especially after four to five days. Shiny colored marbles placed in their water and food will also attract the poults to feed.
Turkey poults should be fed with lukewarm water. Extremely cold water may cause deaths. A well-positioned spotlight can easily heat up the water to lukewarm levels. The water should also be fortified with vitamins if possible. They require a lot more protein than chicken. As such, their food should be rich in proteins.
Last update on 2023-06-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API