Originally Posted by jophus
When I first started hatching, I killed several not being patient. I've had them pip towards the middle or lower part of the egg, have another chick turn the egg to where the pip is on bottom and have had them drown that way.
Hatching, especially with incubators is a constant learning experience. Even then, you'll still have crappy hatches occasionally.
Anybody here ever hatch turkeys? If appreciate advice if you have. Gonna put some in the incubator tonight.
Originally Posted by jophus
That scares me.
Ravyn? How do I do this? Better yet, how do you do this?
Originally Posted by RavynFallen
I've only hatched 2 batches, lol, but they were shipped eggs... I ran mine in a dry bator, 100.5F temp and about 30% humidity, auto turner and candled to watch the air cells... 28 days, lockdown day 25... they have a much tougher shell and the membrane can be like leather, so lockdown humidity needs to be higher... I think I did mine at 75% and they hatched fine...
Also, mine were a mix of heritage and broad breasteds, so not sure if that makes a difference either... Sweetgrass are pretty birds... if I hadn't become friends with Walnut, those would have probably been my first choice to try just for the heck of it...
Poults imprint super easy... they're also easy to get to use a rabbit waterer too... they catch a chill easier than chicks, but since you brood super tiny bantams I bet you're fine there...
Anything else, just ask... I can't think of anything to add for now... I'll see if I can get Walnut to pop on to the thread, she is the real expert...
Originally Posted by jophus
My biggest question is humidity. If you could dial it in at a percentage, what would that percentage be? Right now I'm going with 45%. Seems to be where this particular incubator gives me the best air cell development over the course of my incubation. Once I get them to the hatcher, and start getting internal pips, I'll go much higher, 75-80% or so. Once they've pipped, I don't think you can go too high, outside of setting them in a bowl of water. That's my plan until someone advises me differently.
Edit: Actually found a thread on here that confirms this, as well as the dry hatch thing you suggested. Guy even uses a Reptipro to incubate turkey eggs. I've been looking at those, may have to look a little harder.
He also suggests dropping the temp a degree during the hatch, and his rationale makes a lot of sense.
I've hatched a few hundred turkeys in a half dozen types of incubators, shipped eggs, local eggs and my own flock's eggs. I'd be happy to chat.
First, let me tell you what I did and did not find successful, and why. Then I'd love to hear what you have, and hopefully we can mesh my experience with your equipment and come up with great results.
Turkey eggs are much more rugged than chicken or duck eggs. The shells are thick, and get brittle in very low humidity. The outer membrane is thick and leathery, like a reptile egg. Once the shell is breached, that membrane will toughen and the poult will be unable to tear it if humidity drops in the incubator. So leave the incubator closed while eggs are pipping and zipping.
I am currently using an old GQF 1402 cabinet incubator with the GQF automatic water pan and bucket reservoir so the water pan stays full without opening the cabinet. I updated the thermostat, but it's still a basic forced air cabinet incubator with a water pan up top in front of the heating element and fan. Taken on the top shelf as per manufacturer recommendations, the temp is set at 100F. The design of the cabinet drops the temp slightly on each shelf as you go down, so I start eggs on the top shelf and as I rotate more eggs in I move them down a shelf. As the poults' own metabolism goes up, the external temp goes down ever so slightly. Three days before hatch date, I move them to the bottom hatching tray which runs at approximately 98-99F depending on room temp and I insert a humidity pad in the water pan. My best hatching results are from a consistent 60-65% humidity the last three days. GQF recommended 55-60%. Kevin Porter at Porterturkeys.com recommends dropping the temp a degree and raising the humidity over 70% and I am sure that works for him, but it did not work for me. I ended up with sticky poults at 70%+ humidity and shrink wrapped poults below 50%, even if dropped for only a few moments to pluck out hatchlings.
I don't have a window in the door of my incubator, so I can only listen to the peeping coming from inside until I decide to open it. Wait as long as you possibly can, 12 hours minimum, from the first peeps you hear inside. If you don't drop the humidity by opening the door, all the poults should hatch in 12-16 hours. Any that don't are likely not all that strong. Have a warm brooder ready for them, 95-97F under the light, along with food and water. If the brooder lamp is set too low, they will not move out from under it. They will lay there and pant and die. If it's too far away, they will stand and huddle. So if they alternate between resting and active chatter, the temps are just right. They do want heat for at least four weeks until fully feathered, though they use it less and less. They need good traction, so I like to use a discardable rag to cover a square of bedding under the heat source. They will start eating right away, picking at whatever is in front of them, so make sure you have turkey starter crumbles on their pad. I like the rabbit water bottles, they are very clean to use and it's really easy to train them as they are attracted by the glistening water droplet. But have a shallow water dish handy too for those that are slow to pick it up.
Turkeys love to snuggle and do great in groups. They are highly socialized and have a sizable vocabulary. They tend to nap in unison, then awake all at once and chatter and eat and drink and explore. They will respond to your imitations of their vocalizations. The three note "Here I am, where are you" is the most common and if you remove one from the group for a trip to the outside world, they will carry on a long distance conversation as far as their voices can reach.
So that was my success story. Here is what did not work for me, and why.
Tabletop foam incubators. Humidity control is awful, eggs don't fit in the auto turner, and ventilation is insufficient. I had few poults hatch, and those that did burned their heads on the exposed heating elements.
Leahy tabletop redwood incubator. Great for incubating, terrible for hatching because there is no way to raise humidity without filling the incubator with wet sponges, and then no way to re-wet them or to control humidity.
Brinsea Polyhatch. Great for incubating, difficult to measure or control humidity for hatching.
Brinsea Eco 20. Small, but good for incubating a few and good for hatching a few. Very little room for them to move and no room for them to stand once hatched.
Homemade cabinet incubator. Really did work pretty well, but thermostat had pretty wide temp swings.
Cooler hatcher. Until I can precisely control humidity I won't incubate or hatch in there. It goes from 16% dry to 100% in minutes. I had a lot of over-wet poults as well as a few shrink wrapped.
Brinsea Ova Easy 380. Great temp control, large water pan (but does not auto-refill), easy to get hatching humidity with a humidity pad. Full view door makes it easy to see, and large hatching tray space allows for using individual shoe boxes for pedigree hatching or a tray for a group hatch. I had a great hatch in the Ova Easy too, but again opening the door shrink wrapped poults.
If you want to chat about your equipment, I'd be happy to do so. I'm in the metro Detroit area, and I find it necessary to add water to maintain incubation humidity in my cabinet incubators. During incubation I shoot for 30-45%. I don't worry about numbers, I just look for averages and make sure the air cells are on track.