Breeding turkeys for the first time

JimmyG1971

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2018
7
2
11
i have had turkeys, chickens and ducks for years. Turkeys for meat and chickens and ducks for eggs. This spring i ordered heritage breed turkeys (Blue Slate) and slaughtered all but 1 tom and 3 hens. I would like them to naturally breed and raise their young. I would like to harvest all eggs for eating, but would like about 10 babies to hatch. Then have those babies become meat birds for the fall. The literature on this is lacking. Anyone done this? How did you go about doing it?
 

Molpet

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Sep 7, 2015
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Turkey eggs can be difficult to incubate.. here is help with that http://www.porterturkeys.com/egghatchingtips.htm
Turkeys tend to go broody every year. When they get a clutch of 12 or so eggs.. usually.. depends on the hen.
I ate the first couple of weeks of eggs and then left marked eggs. Meanwhile I had a couple of chickens go broody and gave them turkey eggs
When turkey hen went broody I took out the oldest eggs.
I set 25 or so eggs and 18 hatched and lived more than 3 days.
8 died from what might have been coccidiose.. all before they were 8 weeks...
I butched 3 of the 4 jakes at 6 months.. they weighed 11 and 1/2 to 12 1/2 dressed.
 
Last edited:

mandelyn

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Aug 30, 2009
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Mt Repose, OH
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I incubate Turkey eggs, last season I let the hens have a go at it and they all botched it. Likely from nest bickering and walking on the eggs. I kept finding them smashed. They stayed broody for 2 months and not one successful hatch. If I let them do it again I'll have to separate each hen with her own nest and see if that helps. If they're setting though, they're not laying. My Bourbons lay for months on end if I keep collecting the eggs.

Thankfully I was incubating while the hens were trying, so we had 9 toms to process last Fall. I sell the girls to offset the feed expense. A lot of people lose the hens they free range from them trying to hide and set on eggs. 2 different people had 10 year old Toms in need of a 3rd or 5th wife!

Set more eggs than you need, if your goal is 10, set 15.
 

R2elk

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I incubate Turkey eggs, last season I let the hens have a go at it and they all botched it. Likely from nest bickering and walking on the eggs. I kept finding them smashed. They stayed broody for 2 months and not one successful hatch. If I let them do it again I'll have to separate each hen with her own nest and see if that helps. If they're setting though, they're not laying. My Bourbons lay for months on end if I keep collecting the eggs.
While hens can break eggs when sharing nests, the most common cause of broken eggs in a nest is from a tom trying to breed a sitting hen. If hens are broody, their nests must either be hidden from the toms or enclosed in such a fashion that the tom cannot get to the nest. Building an enclosure around the nest with an entrance that only a hen can fit through will keep the tom away from the hen and the eggs. The other solution is to separate the tom from broody hens.

I had a Bourbon Red tom that would hunt down the nests and smash all the eggs in order to get the hens back into breeding mode.

It is a very good idea to get the hens to use separate nests but sometimes can be difficult to achieve.

Good luck.
 

mandelyn

Crowing
11 Years
Aug 30, 2009
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Mt Repose, OH
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@R2elk Thanks for that, I hadn't heard that about toms potentially being the culprit.

The nest box had a roof to prevent the tom from getting in though, I didn't know there was a reason but I gave them privacy with a slant roof that he couldn't get under easily. He also had a lady friend who didn't join in on the broodiness, 3 of the 4 did, sitting on two clutches. It was the 1st attempt for all of them.

Tom wise, he's coming into his 3rd year and has been great in temperament. He's kind to all but other Toms. We'll see how next season goes! He's casual about breeding but gets around with them all enough for great fertility. None ended up looking too ragged.

We'll see what happens next year!
 

JimmyG1971

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2018
7
2
11
I incubate Turkey eggs, last season I let the hens have a go at it and they all botched it. Likely from nest bickering and walking on the eggs. I kept finding them smashed. They stayed broody for 2 months and not one successful hatch. If I let them do it again I'll have to separate each hen with her own nest and see if that helps. If they're setting though, they're not laying. My Bourbons lay for months on end if I keep collecting the eggs.

Thankfully I was incubating while the hens were trying, so we had 9 toms to process last Fall. I sell the girls to offset the feed expense. A lot of people lose the hens they free range from them trying to hide and set on eggs. 2 different people had 10 year old Toms in need of a 3rd or 5th wife!

Set more eggs than you need, if your goal is 10, set 15.
many thanks for the info
 

JimmyG1971

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2018
7
2
11
While hens can break eggs when sharing nests, the most common cause of broken eggs in a nest is from a tom trying to breed a sitting hen. If hens are broody, their nests must either be hidden from the toms or enclosed in such a fashion that the tom cannot get to the nest. Building an enclosure around the nest with an entrance that only a hen can fit through will keep the tom away from the hen and the eggs. The other solution is to separate the tom from broody hens.

I had a Bourbon Red tom that would hunt down the nests and smash all the eggs in order to get the hens back into breeding mode.

It is a very good idea to get the hens to use separate nests but sometimes can be difficult to achieve.

Good luck.
thanks for the info
 

JimmyG1971

In the Brooder
Dec 6, 2018
7
2
11
Turkey eggs can be difficult to incubate.. here is help with that http://www.porterturkeys.com/egghatchingtips.htm
Turkeys tend to go broody every year. When they get a clutch of 12 or so eggs.. usually.. depends on the hen.
I ate the first couple of weeks of eggs and then left marked eggs. Meanwhile I had a couple of chickens go broody and gave them turkey eggs
When turkey hen went broody I took out the oldest eggs.
I set 25 or so eggs and 18 hatched and lived more than 3 days.
8 died from what might have been coccidiose.. all before they were 8 weeks...
I butched 3 of the 4 jakes at 6 months.. they weighed 11 and 1/2 to 12 1/2 dressed.
i will check out the link, thanks
 

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