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Turkey Poult Deformity

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Ok, my turkey finally hatched. Went back and recalculated the hatch date from 3 December, and took the advice of who ever suggested it and raised the humidity over the last several days. Got up this morning to check him as usual and the egg had moved. Looked around and there was a wet fuzz in the corner. Then I had to go to work. Wife said there is something wrong with it. When I got home, 10 hours later, he is having a problem standing up and has significantly deformed eyes. Im not sure if this will get better or if it will be terminal and Id be better off putting it down.
Lowered the humidity and he is drying off. He can get around, but not really stand up. Not sure if that is an issue just yet, but will be a deal breaker in the next day or so. Looked and couldnt find any information on some thing like this. Not sure if it is genetic or a result of temperature or humidity level during incubation. I think mom and dad were both healthy and would be surprised if it had anything to do with nutrition.
Ive been raising turkeys for several years, but this is my first go round with eggs and hatching them. Feel lucky to get the one out of 12 eggs to hatch. So what I would really like is to get feedback from some of you that do turkeys. Seen anything like this before? Right now he is alone in the incubator and is peeping up a storm. I was hoping to put him in with the chicks that hatched a few days ago, but as they are older and he seems to be rather weak and vulnerable right now, not a good idea.
The one thing I did just think of is that both mom and dad were about 6-7 months old when the eggs were laid. Not sure if that could have had some affect on not only the fertility of the eggs (At least two were fertile) and some how the viability of the poults. And, one more thing in the back of my mind is whether I will get a repeat of this in the spring when I try to mate them again in earnest?
Mom is a blue slate, and dad is most likely a Spanish black. Or Bourbon Red, but I think I only saw the black on her.

OK, so maybe I figured the image thing out!

Edited by ccrawf - 12/30/09 at 5:55pm
post #2 of 16

I've been told that higher temps between day 8-12 of incubation can result in spraddle leg (shuffling about on their tibiotarsal joints or worse), but this info came from a fellow in GA. whose experience was in commercial operations (our three BBB poults all developed this within 12hr.s of one another on day 13 post-hatch - no change in brooding environment).  We managed to keep one moving (taped/splinted legs and feet) for four months before he too had to be put down.  However, I'd guess those are congenital abnormalities in your poult.

Does your poult have all its toes? From the shot it looks like is suffering from syndactyly (fewer toes than normal) and obviously suffering from exophthalmos (bulging eyes).  I only mention those terms as searching for info can be focused more precisely (also try using Meleagris Gallopavo instead of turkey).

If it is eating and drinking without difficulty (eyesight unaffected) you could try using vet tape to position the toes and legs (you can also place it in a cup so legs hang down into it).  Polyvisol liquid vitamins (no iron) three drops a day might be of some utility.

You might consider taking a complete set of photos of the poult (above/sides/front/back/shots showing position of legs/toes) and sending them off to UC Davis/Cornell/Univ. MN (HQ turkey genome project)/Ohio State University/University of Virginia  all of those schools have/had research programs on turks.

Wish you the best regardless.

Edited by ivan3 - 12/31/09 at 8:18am
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Went back and looked at the poult, and he has all his toes. They do seems to curl in some so he has a difficult time standing. Not sure if he is eating or drinking yet. He is just over 24 hours old and that should start making a difference soon. He still seems very energetic and get move quickly when he wants to. Haven't been able to find anything useful on the web.

post #4 of 16

So long as it is energetic and has its eyesight (moving head to follow your movement?), I'd be working on the legs (plently of stuff on spraddle leg here) and giving vitamins (just in case).

If I had to guess:  Pituitary/thyroid:

Edited by ivan3 - 12/31/09 at 11:37am
post #5 of 16

How is the poult doing today?

It is pretty common for poults to be unsteady on their feet for a bit longer than chicks are after hatching.  If toes/legs are the problem, splints do wonders to help them out!

I hatched 3 poults in an incubator this summer and two were unable to stand (one was able to move around enough to eat/drink, the other was not).  The one that was unable to eat/drink would lean so severely to one side that it could not even hold its body upright.  I put them both in coffee mugs in the brooder, following advice I found somewhere on this forum.  The idea was to put them in a container narrow enough to keep them upright and tall enough for them not to jump out of, in order to "train" their bodies in how to properly stand.  In a few hours the less severely disabled poult was cured and by the end of the day the most severely disabled poult was cured!  I thought it nothing short of miraculous.

Good luck with your poult; hope he is doing better!

"Paradise lost is sometimes heaven found" - Arthur Yorinks
"Paradise lost is sometimes heaven found" - Arthur Yorinks
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

First off, I got absolutely no responses on the emergency site. Kind of disappointed. So I really appreciate every one who posted here.
Today is the evening of 2 January, so the poult is what, 4 days old? It is still doing ok. I thought last night I was going to have to put it down for sure, but Im playing that game between does it have a chance and how cruel is it to wait. Sure we all do that.
I believe the poult is blind. Ive moved it from the incubator into a small brooder. A cardboard box with a lamp in it, and newspaper with paper towels over it for bedding. It can stand with no problems, but sometimes the toes curl inwards. It has gotten much better and Im not even worried about that any more. I dont seem to get any reaction to movement around it, other than sound, and I watched it bump into the waterer about 3 times, like it just couldnt see it. There are a few patches of poo in the brooder, but I dont think it is eating or drinking enough to survive for long. Daughter is working with it, but Im afraid it is a loosing battle and right now dont have the heart to put it down. And part of me really wants it to make it.
The other part worries about what, if anything this means for the future. I had hoped to breed these turkeys in the spring, the reason I got heritage birds to begin with. I got them the middle of June, so they are just less than 7 months old as I figure it. And that seems to be pretty young from what I have read. Not sure if that would explain why only 2 of 12 developed to begin with. One of those seemed to be fully developed, but died at the end. I think that was due to not raising the humidity levels. Corrected that with the last egg (lesson learned!!) and the last one hatched, but had the defect. Unfortunately I didnt take the first bird out of the shell and really look at it to see if it had a similar defect. Another lesson learned, but I hadnt thought about this and so wasnt sure why I should look. I had considered looking, but decided against it.
Well, think that about covers everything. If there is some thing I missed or didnt think of, please let me know. I think the plan right now is to let her keep working with it. It may starve to death eventually, but Ill give it that shot at this point. At the least Ill wait until it cant stand up or move about the brooder any more.

THis pic is of it on the bed spread. You can see the eye deformity really well, and how the one toe is turned back some. Other than that, seems to be ok. The feathers are starting to come out.

Edited by ccrawf - 1/2/10 at 7:42pm
post #7 of 16

It could be a nutrient deficiency  in the mother... I was curious and did some searching on line and found this:
Vitamin E. The peak of embryonic mortality in vitamin E-deficient eggs occurs at
84-96 h. Growth of the embryo is retarded and there is haemorrhaging and a failure
of development of the circulatory system (Adamstone, 193 I).
There is a bulging of the cornea and a protruding eye in vitamin E-deficient
turkey embryos, with a yellowish-white spot between the lens and the cornea at
24-28 d of incubation. Cataracts and haemorrhages occur in the eyes, with a
liquefaction of the lens protein (Ferguson, Atkinson & Couch, 1954; Atkinson,
Ferguson, Quisenberry & Couch, 1955 ; Ferguson, Rigdon & Couch, 1956).

Here is the site if you want to go through it:

Other than that, maybe do a search on 'Exophthalmos (Bulging Eyes)'?

My suggestion would be to wait until spring to try again (unless you have lights going, daylight length affects male fertility too), and start feeding a good gamebird breeder ration.  If you are using an incubator, I have heard that it is better to lay the eggs on their side rather than standing them up.  From what I understand, leg problems are more likely if the eggs are standing on end during development. 

Hope the little thing makes it, probably be hard on your daughter if you lose it!

Edited by Frosty - 1/3/10 at 2:04am
post #8 of 16

Just my 2 cents here. I also have a poult with one deformed eye. She/he is a few months old now and its not any better.  It actually has caused cross beak because she only eats out of 1 side of her mouth. Of course the side thats deformed. Always filling the eye with food. My DH won't let me put her down now. If I had it to do over again,I would uthenize.

Life is a coin,you can spend it anyway you wish,but you can only spend it once.
Life is a coin,you can spend it anyway you wish,but you can only spend it once.
post #9 of 16

I don't want to sound heartless because I love my babies, but I would cull this bird and as the previous poster mentioned start gamebird feed which is what we use for our turkeys.   The question is will your turkey grow to its full potential or will it be treated with disdain and picked on by other birds....Usually the weakest bird is picked on....I think culling is far kinder that bringing a bird along that will be hurt later.

Hope this was helpful and have a great new years.

Remember God's sunshine in your heart.GA farm mainly farming vegetables and fruit and also baking and jam making. hatching eggs/babies: lavender ameraucanas,;bbs,white, buff & partridge silkies,etc   See our BYC listings:  
Remember God's sunshine in your heart.GA farm mainly farming vegetables and fruit and also baking and jam making. hatching eggs/babies: lavender ameraucanas,;bbs,white, buff & partridge silkies,etc   See our BYC listings:  
post #10 of 16

Thanks for trying.  Saw your post in emergencies but didn't have anything to add.  Could be Frosty is on to something with the vitamin E deficiency.  I would suggest, again, taking a series of shots of this poult and emailing them to the folks at the Unversities listed in my first post (I'd start with UC Davis).  Poor guy is blind and there is no real workaround for that.  At least the pics might be of some benefit to other turks somewhere down the line and you might also get a definitive answer about what happened (I'd have a necroscopy performed as well and send those results along with the shots).

Take care and best wishes


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