Are you interested in hatching fertile turkey eggs with an incubator? This short guide will help you with the whole process.
Why Turkey Eggs Aren’t Sold in the Store
Turkey eggs are typically used for hatching poults or baby turkeys. Therefore, hatching the eggs of turkeys is more prudent than, say, selling them commercially as chickens lay far more eggs per year. While the female turkey only lays about 100 eggs during a timeframe of 30 weeks, hens lay as many as 300 eggs annually. As a result, it just makes more sense to produce hen eggs for consumption. Nevertheless, hatching eggs, such as turkey eggs, is no doubt appreciated by consumers when the poults develop into full-fledged turkeys, especially around the holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Artificial Turkey Egg Incubation Process
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. Candling is the safest and simplest method of checking the fertility of an egg. The device or instrument use for egg candling is called an egg candler. You can read more about it here.
Preparing 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 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 two temperature gauges to monitor the temperature inside the device.
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 pre-heat the eggs for 12 hours as well. Warm the incubator to 72oF or 22oC to ensure hatching.
The Incubation Period for Stored Eggs
Also, 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.
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.
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 egg shell which can harm the baby turkey. 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 humidity level during hatching is around 68 to 70 percent.
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 along by helping them as doing so may harm them. Wait for 8 to 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.
5 Tips for Raising 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.
Raising turkeys is predominantly done for meat. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes approximately 17 pounds of turkey meat every year. In order to meet this demand, turkey farmers in the U.S. have to raise more than 252 million turkeys annually. It will take you anything from 15 to 25 weeks or 6 months to grow sizeable turkeys. Below are five tips for raising turkeys.
Turkey poults love heat. 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 chicken is an absolute no. Birds pass a certain type of parasite/worm through their systems. The parasite does not affect birds. However, insufficient amounts, it 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.