Breeding bourbon red turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by gratefulmags, Apr 7, 2016.

  1. gratefulmags

    gratefulmags New Egg

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    Jul 23, 2014
    Toledo, OH
    Hello from nw Ohio!
    we have one 14-month-old bourbon red Tom and one hen of the same age. We also have one blue Slate hen that will be 1 year in July. Last spring the red hen started laying and she resumed again about a month ago. Both hens lay daily. The Tom has been trying to mate with both hens for several months but I'm not sure how successful he has been; when I see him it doesn't seem like he's getting the job done. About a week ago the bourbon red hen started sitting on the eggs. We collected them up until Tuesday, so she has four under her right now. Problem is that she gets up a few times a day for a good hour, and it's cold in Toledo right now. She gets very upset when we collect her eggs and sometimes we have to come back because she tries to bite. She's normally a very big sweetheart.
    So I have a couple questions about this whole process. First, when are turkeys able to start producing babies? Do I leave the eggs in the nest until she has the number I want to hatch and then collect any extras? What do I do if she's intermittently laying on the eggs? How long do they keep the right temperature when it's about 30° outside? I know to check the eggs after about 10 days with a candle. And I know to make sure I mark the ones that she's going to try to hatch. We've raised chickens for a few years and this is our first full year with a set of heritage turkeys. We have no roosters for our hens so we don't breed chickens. I'm basically completely unfamiliar with the entire process. I'm really stumped about how we collect enough eggs for her to lay on and start incubating so that they all hatch about the same time. Especially with only two hens laying and I'm really questionable about the blue Slate's viability.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated! There is not a whole lot of help online for raising turkeys through this process. I do own storeys book but doesn't deal much with breeding.
    Thank you in advance for any help I can get! [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. DuckiesAndChick

    DuckiesAndChick New Egg

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    Apr 7, 2016
    Hello,I personaly don't know a lot about turkeys but if you want keets (baby turkeys) don't take the eggs from her. Not all eggs will be fertile but you have to try to keeps all eggs with her.
     
  3. DuckiesAndChick

    DuckiesAndChick New Egg

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    Apr 7, 2016
    sorry you might want to have keets I would put do them now even tho it is cold like you said It may be better
     
  4. modernsettlers

    modernsettlers Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2015
    Petaluma, CA
    We're new to keeping and breeding turkeys too! Our Bourbon Reds were 31 weeks when we got our first egg, but I had observed "breeding" type behavior a few weeks before that. I use quotes, because the male really doesn't look like he knows what he's doing. Mainly our Jake seems to just stomp on her back, not settling down or making any kind of contact, so I had doubts about fertility... but I set the first 10 eggs we collected and even the very first laid egg is showing strong development, so he must have got the job done at least once.

    Not sure if this is how the "experts" do it, but this is what worked for us:
    I've been collecting eggs daily, almost as soon as they're laid. Our girls sometimes squawk at me when I collect them, but they don't lay on the eggs for long, or leave them for long periods like you described. To store until incubation, I keep the eggs on an automatic turner in our shed. The temp fluctuates some, but it stays pretty cool in there, lows in the high 50's and highs in the 60's. The longest I've kept eggs this way before incubation is a week, but it may be fine for longer. Once I had the number of eggs I wanted, I moved them into our little styrofoam incubator (one of the hovabator-style cheapies) and the rest is just waiting. I don't have any experience using a broody hen though... hope this still helps.

    Here's a video I took yesterday of them trying to do their thing. Goofy AF, but hey, the eggs are still good!
    [VIDEO]
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  5. modernsettlers

    modernsettlers Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2015
    Petaluma, CA
    Pretty sure baby turkey are called "poults" - "keets" are young Guinea Fowl. No?
     
    2 people like this.
  6. R2elk

    R2elk Overrun With Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2013
    Natrona County, Wyoming
    The turkey hen could care less about how many eggs you want to hatch. Each turkey hen has her own ideal clutch size that she wants before she goes broody. That clutch size can be anywhere from 1 egg to more than 20 eggs and only the hen knows how many she needs to set her off. If you want your hen to go broody, leave her, her nest and her eggs alone.

    Turkey hens have been known to sit on eggs when it is cold out long enough to keep them from freezing.

    Just because you haven't seen the completion of the "deed" doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I rarely seen the complete breeding act but I have hatched lots of poults from my turkey's eggs.

    There is plenty of turkey information in this forum. Just use the advanced search function to search this forum for the information you are looking for.
     
    2 people like this.
  7. gratefulmags

    gratefulmags New Egg

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    Jul 23, 2014
    Toledo, OH
    Thank you for all the replys! @Modernsettlers that is exactly how our turkeys look while mating! Lol. The stomping on the back tho!!! Lol gaf is right!
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  8. Weehopper

    Weehopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 26, 2015
    He bred her. Right there at the last.
     
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  9. gratefulmags

    gratefulmags New Egg

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    Jul 23, 2014
    Toledo, OH
    Update: my hen seems to be laying on a nest of 9 now. She rarely gets up (especially in the last three days) that I see. We don't have any experience with raising poults or chicks out except for in a brooder. As far as the other hen, if she has eggs in the nest that hatch, will she help or attack the babies? I'm going to guess that I will need to remove the Tom if our eggs hatch. I don't know if that's an automatic thing that people do or if I need to wait and see how he reacts. He's been leaving her alone while she's on the nest. Thanks again.
     
  10. Weehopper

    Weehopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 26, 2015
    My sister- in-law raises turkeys. Lol, they just go off in the brush for however long, and come back with babies. She has never talked about removing the toms. They all run together on 20 acres. She goes out and tosses feed on the ground for them in the evening, for which they come in. Very casual. They are heritage breeds too.
     

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