Bad luck with hatching turkeys - any ideas?


11 Years
Sep 24, 2008
SW Central Michigan
Just over a month ago, I was waiting for 9 Blue Slate turkey eggs to hatch. Only one did. 5 no shows, 2 approx 2 wk embryos, I fully formed that didn't pip and the hatched one.

Did some frantic scrounging around and got 18 more eggs, mostly Blue Slates. Should have started hatching last night, but nothing doing yet. Put three under a broody hen, no luck there either.

Eggs are all shipped, but from 3 different breeders. Were rested for a day before incubating. Have a Hova bator with fan, two electronic thermometers and a hydrometer. Have followed directions to the letter, but it seems I'm to be stuck with a lone turkey for the winter.

Right now he has two late hatched chicks with him, but it's clear he knows they're not turkeys!

Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong?

What are the chances of putting this turkey and the two chicks in the hen house successfully for the winter? Am afraid they're going to be cold with just 3 of them.

I really don't know anything about turkeys, but thought I would give you a 'bump' and maybe someone else can help!
I raise Blue Slates and don't have much trouble at all hatching them, it's keeping them alive after they are born. BUT in their defense, I usually have anywhere from 100 to 300 OTHER chicks, ducklings and such hatched out to take care of and don't take the time with the turkeys that I need too. I will tell you from LOTS of experience that I keep my humidity WAY up during the whole incubation and have way better success in hatching them. My humidity stays around 78-82% from day one, and I have much better hatch rates. Turkeys are the one thing that just takes some practice to get right. I am getting rid of my guineas, and misc chickens just to focus on my Blue Slates more next Spring. I already have culled the ones that didn't meet my breed expectations, so I have got to get busy. My turkeys stay with my chickens until they get way bigger than the chickens which is usually at a couple months of age, and I do not have any problems.
Sorry I didn't see this before, we have just a "little" experience hatching turkeys. (Just a rough guess about 5 to 6 hundred this year?)
First give us a run down on your incubator, temp, RH etc etc. Each 'bator model have it's own best settings for hatch rates and hopefully somebody might have your same model and give you some hints.

We use a GQF sportsman and use the same setting as for chicken eggs. 100 degrees and about 50% dry bulb RH. Stop turning at 25 days, ours hatch about day 26 to 27- We run our temp just a touch higher than recommended for turkeys (most of the books say 99.5 degrees) so that is why ours hatch early.

Have you hatched other eggs in your hovabator? and did you have anything else in with the turkey eggs? We started with a hovabator and found it was prone to temp. swings. Any kind of draft or change in room temp. would get it going, even the AC or heat coming on. We always had the best hatches when it was full.

With eggs thru the mail it's a crap shoot at best, when we order eggs if we get 50% to hatch we feel lucky. Also the time of year has alot to do with it. If your seller is selling eggs from the end of the laying cycle your fertility is going to be low and other factors are heat in shipping, heat on the laying hens, there is a long list there.

For putting just the 3 out for the winter it depends on where you live, you may need to give them extra heat or a smaller area within the chicken house that will hold their body heat better.

Steve in NC
Thanks for the replies. Ok, have kept the incubator at 100.5 degrees with about 50% Humidity for the first 24 days. Took eggs out of turner at the end of 24, lowered the temp t0 99.5 and raised humidity to 80%. The hen of course, sets her own temp and humidity
One of our thermometers has an alarm if it goes more than one degree off the setting, and we've had very good luck keeping the temperature steady. We had only turkey eggs in this batch, last batch we had some chicken eggs that we added later, we actually thought that might have been the reason for the low hatch rate last time, but this time it's worse!!

Have had really good success rates with chicken eggs in this incubator (in fact, better than with broody hens), so not sure what the problem is, except possibly the time of the year. We have it in a room with no heat or A/C ductwork, no open windows or drafts, so very steady temps in the room. Of course, it's also the most out of the way room in the house too, which makes checking several times a day a pain, but hey, you do what you gotta do.

The henhouse question need to be clarified - there will already be hens in the hen house!! Buff orphs and Black austr.
Blue Slates are very docile when young and an older bird, like a hen set in her ways, can/will antagonize the holy mess out of a young bird. Turkeys and guineas don't have the feathers on top of their heads like chickens to protect from pecking either. And they will definately need their own coop when they are bigger than the chickens. Male turkeys will kill your male and female chickens, especially in the Spring time wen they get to feeling froggy.
We raise all our birds together and have never had a turkey kill a chicken or any other bird. We have over 100 turkeys- Bourbon Red, White Holland, Beltsville, Midget White, Standard Bronze, Royal Palm. They are raised together from day one.

Steve in NC
Wow, we were told to keep the temperature at 100.5 exactly by one of the breeders who sent very detailed hatching instructions- and that's the same temp we sucessfully use for our chicks. Do turkeys need lower temps? This guy breeds and raises LOTS of turkeys, so I figured he would know what we should be doing. I'm bummed totally
- spent a lot of time and money finding these eggs.


New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom