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Broody turkey

 
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I have a broody turkey with 15 eggs. She sits on her nest a lot during the day and all night. But every day she gets off for 3 to 5 hours!!! Are my eggs ok? They get cold obviously.. it’s her first year
 
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That all depends on how cool they get.  Here in Ohio they would not hatch.  It was 26 degrees f this morning.  We take the eggs away from them till mid May so they will hatch when it stays above freezing.  The eggs actually taste good, but are hard to crack open. Our turkeys take between 27 and 32 days to hatch.
 
Erica Cawood
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It has been around the 50s here or higher when she’s off the nest.. so they should be ok?
 
Christopher Shepherd
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From what I understand is if the eggs are below 95deg they will not grow normal.  If the eggs gets below 80 deg they quit growing altogether.  I think that 50 deg for a few hours probably has damaged the hatch rate.  When we use incubators and loose power for more than a hour our hatch rates are drastically reduced.  Only one time none of them hatched though.  That all being said, they probably will not hatch out.
 
Christopher Shepherd
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I hope the best for you.  Sometimes animals surprise me and the science can't explain it yet.  Please keep us posted on how it turns out.  
 
Erica Cawood
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Will do. She was off this morning for about 4 hours. She did not want more food as I had fed her already so I carried her back to her nest and placed her just outside it. She climbed right back on. So I may start doing that if I notice her off but not looking for food.
 
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Erica Cawood wrote:I have a broody turkey with 15 eggs. She sits on her nest a lot during the day and all night. But every day she gets off for 3 to 5 hours!!! Are my eggs ok? They get cold obviously.. it’s her first year



How long has she been sitting the eggs?  

There are 2 ways to find out if the eggs are okay.  1, you wait it out and see if any hatch.  Or 2, go out after dark (or bring a heavy blanket or something to make some darkness) with a small but bright flashlight and, one at a time, place the flashlight to the fat end of each egg to inspect it.  If it's not viable, it'll be bright and clear, and you may be able to see the yolk as a little blurry round shadow.   If it's developing, depending on how long it's been incubating, you may see a network of veins, and a tiny little peanut (fetal chick) or a larger black peanut (bigger fetal chick), and possibly a pulse and some movement.  If it's close to hatching (within 5-7 days or so), the majority of the egg will be black and you probably won't see much definition or movement.  If the eggs started incubating and died you'll see mushy yellow goo with no definition, "blood rings" or dark bands that do not resemble veins, or a displaced/enlarged air pocket that is not confined to the fat end of the egg, accompanied by cloudy, milky, or yellow contents without definition.  If a chick died very close to hatching it's much harder to tell if it's dead or alive, you generally need to sit and be patient and watch for movement.  But if they're that close to hatching you should just leave them and see what happens.

First timers sometimes wreck the clutch.  But usually they learn.  Then their first successful brood of babies sometimes don't make it.  Also sometimes the second.  

I personally have a saying with turkeys "If you want more than just 1 or 2 poults to survive, DON'T let the mama hen take care of them".  Baby turkeys (poults) are super fragile and incredibly "not-smart" compared to chicks.  Poults excel at dying.  They're frighteningly good at it.  And mama turkeys don't often fuss over their babes studiously, so it's a bad combo.  

Anyway.  I hope the eggs are all kickin' strong and you have a great hatch  Turkey eggs take 28 days to incubate, so if you know when she started sitting, you can figure out how far along they are.
 
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Our geese have exhibited that behavior, but not for such long periods at a time. It took me a while to realize they needed to get up and move and eat grass. But the geese *always* covered their eggs thoroughly with down and straw before going off - in effect insulating the eggs. Goose eggs apparently actually benefit from ~15 min of cool-down periods at certain points in their development, but not others.

I've also read that geese often aren't ready to successfully brood until they're 3 years old. Humans have done some crazy work at removing natural mothering skills in our feathered employees. Permies are often trying to re-establish that, but it may take time.

I think your plan of picking her up and putting her back near the nest for a few days is a good one to try, but it may be too little too late. It may be her way of telling you that they're already dead. If you can follow Jen Fan's instructions of candling the eggs if the timings right during one of the periods she's off, or if she's tolerant enough of you to let you mess with the nest at night, that would be good.

I don't know where you are located, but if you're allowed Muscovy ducks, they are awesome setters and brooders. We have given ours goose eggs and khaki eggs and I'd give them turkey eggs for sure. At least then you'd have turkeys that had been "mothered". That might help to teach those offspring the mothering skills they'll need?
 
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Jay Angler wrote:
I don't know where you are located, but if you're allowed Muscovy ducks, they are awesome setters and brooders. We have given ours goose eggs and khaki eggs and I'd give them turkey eggs for sure. At least then you'd have turkeys that had been "mothered". That might help to teach those offspring the mothering skills they'll need?



A recent thread on the Meatsmith Facebook page was discussing exactly this.  The Farmstead Meatsmith guy (Brandon Sheard) was very much an advocate of using Muscovy ducks to incubate just about any eggs.  As I am intending to hold back a tom and 2-3 hens from the heritage turkeys we are getting this year I'm tempted to get some muscovies just to incubate and brood poults.  But I'm not sure I want to go through that much trouble.  It might be less effort and expense to get an electronic incubator and brood any hatchlings myself.  Definitely need to do more research on that score.
 
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:

Jay Angler wrote:
I don't know where you are located, but if you're allowed Muscovy ducks, they are awesome setters and brooders. We have given ours goose eggs and khaki eggs and I'd give them turkey eggs for sure. At least then you'd have turkeys that had been "mothered". That might help to teach those offspring the mothering skills they'll need?



A recent thread on the Meatsmith Facebook page was discussing exactly this.  The Farmstead Meatsmith guy (Brandon Sheard) was very much an advocate of using Muscovy ducks to incubate just about any eggs.  As I am intending to hold back a tom and 2-3 hens from the heritage turkeys we are getting this year I'm tempted to get some muscovies just to incubate and brood poults.  But I'm not sure I want to go through that much trouble.  It might be less effort and expense to get an electronic incubator and brood any hatchlings myself.  Definitely need to do more research on that score.



Both my muscovy girls were excellent mothers, managing clutches of 16 eggs and getting 15 to hatch, they will leave the eggs for quite long periods, but they pull the straw and down up over them before they leave, it was a good time to go and check on them and remove any chicken eggs the girls had managed to sneak in!
 
Jay Angler
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:

But I'm not sure I want to go through that much trouble.  It might be less effort and expense to get an electronic incubator and brood any hatchlings myself.  Definitely need to do more research on that score.

A lot depends on your scale. Muscovy make excellent eating and are grass eaters - unless they're on eggs, ours get a little chicken feed at bedtime to bribe them inside and some organic tempeh scraps a friend drops off, but that's it. I either roast the birds I harvest, or I just harvest the breasts and leg/thighs (I don't have a plucker and I'm too slow at doing it by hand). I grind the breasts for any dish where I'd use ground beef. The leg/thighs can be stew or "corned duck". I consider that they'll hatch and raise other bird breeds a bonus. Alternatively, good incubators are expensive and require electricity and checking 3-4 times a day (maybe less if you get the professional type) and a friend who was buying the typical small home -user-sized ones have a habit of breaking every 3-4 years. The reason we got the one we have is the fan had a problem. We think it still does and that made keeping the humidity at a proper level when I tried a fertility test on some ducks this spring virtually impossible. Then you've got a bunch of baby birds that need to be kept safe and at the right temperature - Muscovy will do that for you, although that's a bit of a struggle with 3 goslings! Last but not least, Muscovy are really nice, laid-back birds to have. Much friendlier and more sociable than Noisy ducks for example.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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What would be a good source for us left-coasters for Muscovy ducklings?  Looks like most hatcheries will only ship with next day delivery, so for east coast or mid-west hatcheries that would mean air-freight, and much larger order minimums than I'd want to deal with.
 
Jay Angler
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:What would be a good source for us left-coasters for Muscovy ducklings?  Looks like most hatcheries will only ship with next day delivery, so for east coast or mid-west hatcheries that would mean air-freight, and much larger order minimums than I'd want to deal with.

I got mine off the internet as rescues. That or buying young ones is fairly easy on Vancouver Isl, but there's no easy way for me to deal with the US border, so I'd look at whatever "Craigslist sort of" local listing sites have farm-type stuff on them. This isn't the best time of year to look, but there were a few listings for them on the local "Used.com" site near me. With the weird weather we've been having, I've only just had girls go broody in the last week. Maybe some US permies will speak up with sources.
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