When you have produced eggs on your farm or household you have a broody hen. These hens are naturally willing to brood the eggs. Though turkey hens are not good mothers like other domestic birds, they can properly hatch the eggs.
You will get some benefits as well as have to face some limitations. Let’s take an overview of the pros and cons of incubating turkey eggs naturally.
For a small scale production of turkey chicks, natural incubation will be effective and efficient. You should follow the following process.
If you don’t provide enough focus on the prerequisite of incubation, you may encounter a very poor result. So, let’s discuss the preparation guide.
Breeding seasons of turkey varied because of variation of species and geographic locations. Among all seasons spring is the very perfect season for breeding.
First of all, you must collect or produce fertile eggs. The eggs of all hens are not fertile. Fertile eggs only can get from the hens which have mated with toms within a maximum of 10 days before laying eggs. Here, I would like to inform you that in North America and some European regions, female turkeys are called Hen and male turkeys are called Tom.
If you have determined to produce eggs yourself, you need proper management of the folk. To get a high hatchability rate and healthy check you must be careful to select breeding stock. Embryos of low-grade eggs cannot survive. There is a direct connection between the egg’s quality and the condition of hen and tom. You need to consider the following things-
Your selected flock should have female turkeys with a minimum of 24 weeks and male turkeys with a minimum of 30 weeks. Generally, female turkeys live 7 to 8 years. At the age of 2 to 3, they have the maximum ability of reproduce. Male turkeys live 8 to 10 years and their sperm count starts dropping at 4 to 5 years old.
To get the optimum output you must collect the eggs of the flock which has maximum reproduction ability.
I previously mentioned that the health condition of both the hen and tom has a direct influence on the fertility of eggs. The selected flock must be strong and free from deformities, defects, or any disease. Embryos of unhealthy father and mother lack the power to survive. The offspring of ill father and mother get poor vigor.
To get fertile and healthy eggs, you must focus on the health and nutrition of the turkey flock you have selected. The signs of healthy flocks are-
Dirty and wet nests are harmful to the turkeys. When you take care of the nest and litter, the flock of turkeys will get a healthy environment. If the nest and litter are dirty, the eggs will also be dirty. As a result, the eggs need to wash or clean. It can be a threat to getting healthy eggs. So, always take care to keep the litter dry and the nest clean.
However, maintaining the nest and litter properly, sometimes you may encounter dirty eggs. So, in an unavoidable situation, you should wash eggs using a damp cloth. The water you will use for cleaning must be a little bit warmer than the egg. Excessive warmth will boil the egg and cold will harm fertility. You should avoid soaking eggs in water. Soaking eggs in water can create an environment of bacterial attack.
Be sure the eggs are dry and dirt free before you keep it in storage.
Excessive hitting or chilling of the eggs can damage the quality of the eggs. So, you should collect eggs from nests as soon as possible. You should frequently visit the nest of the turkey during the day to collect eggs. Some turkeys may lay eggs late at night. So eggs should be collected in the early morning.
Different research shows that medium-sized eggs have a high hatchability rate. So, you should provide priority to avoid very small and very large-sized eggs to incubate. A medium-sized egg of turkey weights within 75 to 95 grams.
Newbies always make mistakes in the storage of the eggs. It is better to wait some days before setting the eggs to incubate. But, storing too many days hampers the hatchability. It is best to store the eggs for 5 to 7 days.
Research reports show that storing turkey eggs for more than 14 days significantly reduces the hatchability. The temperature of the storage should be 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity should be 70% to 85%. Keep in mind that the temperature cannot be higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity cannot be less than 40%.
Now you can decide how you should incubate the turkey eggs you have. You can hatch naturally or can use artificial incubators.
After collecting eggs you need a broody hen for incubation in a natural process. Generally, a hen becomes broody after laying 12 to 15 eggs.
You will find them sitting on eggs in a nest, stopped roaming around, and their eating and drinking habits have changed. If you find a broody hen don’t hurry to put eggs underneath her. You should wait for one or two days to observe the hen.
Sometimes, the hens don’t become full broody for the first couple of days. It is also found that the broodiness has gone. So, you should take her to a separate room and put some artificial eggs under her. Then observe for one or two days. If the hen sits 24 hours on the eggs it is suitable for incubating.
Before putting eggs underneath the hen make sure that the environment is suitable for the hen. Check the following list.
Check the development of the embryo inside the egg. Checking fertility with the help of light is called candling. When the surroundings are dark, light a candle, bulb, or torchlight and hold up eggs toward the light.
If the egg is viable you will see spider-like veins inside the egg. If a spider or fiber-like vein is not shown, the eggs are not fertile. Remove them from the brooding nest and bury them to prevent contamination.
Turkey eggs hatch within 28 days. The last three days are the final days. You should wait and take care of the hen and the environment. When the checks will struggle to break the eggshell, don’t try to help them. It may damage their health and strength.
When all the chicks are dry properly move them to the brooder. Now note down your hatchability rate.