Broodies - leave them alone?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by thaiturkey, May 16, 2010.

  1. thaiturkey

    thaiturkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 22, 2010
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    We now have three brooding hens, a first time for us but, I guess, not for them. All of our turkeys share one coop at the moment.

    One of the broodies emerges in the morning for breakfast and again towards dusk for supper. The other two are now in their third day of sitting and, as far as we can tell, have never left their nests in the coop during that time.

    Should we leave them alone with food and water close by or should we force them to take a break outdoors? The reaction from them when we get close suggests that they wouldn't make it easy fro us to move them!
     
  2. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    If they are in a secure area I would just leave them. They won't come off the nest for long, just a quick drink and eat and right back on so you may be missing the other 2 coming and going. You can move the feed and water closer to make it easy on them.

    With 3 hens in the coop you will need to keep an eye on them for a couple things.

    1) Sometimes the hens will pile into one nest leaving the others to get cold and the eggs will die

    2) If they hatch at different times the hen may abandon the nest to help the others raise the poults.

    At the risk of some pecks and maybe losing a little skin (it grows back [​IMG] and that would be your skin not the turkeys) mark the eggs in the nest so you can tell if any new ones are being added. I take a black sharpie (it's a fine marker type pen - you may not have the sharpie brand) and draw a line around the center of the egg. That way no matter which way they are in the nest you can see the line.

    And hopefully in 28 days you have little poults running around

    Steve
     
  3. thaiturkey

    thaiturkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 22, 2010
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    Many thanks for that advice, Steve.

    The three girls are sharing two nests in the coop. I think that they are quite secure. Two came out for a stroll and feed at different times today.

    At the last count we had 22 eggs. How many are fertilised I don't know. I shall try to take a count tomorrow and mark them all as you suggest. Would a pencil do the trick until I can get a fine marker as you suggest, do you think? We are in the sticks out here and such refinements can be hard to find out of town. I don't mind the pecking but I don't want to frighten them away from the nests. One of the broodies was attacked by a dog when she wandered away to lay the day after she came to us and she's still rather nervous.

    I hope that at least one will remain sitting when hatching begins and I shall move any abandoned eggs to her. My wife suggests we take the poults away from the hens and keep them under mosquito netting on the back porch for three weeks. After one week they will have anti mozzie medication and two weeks after that they can enjoy some open space during daylight. I'm inclined to let the mothers be mothers if the old boy leaves the poults alone but they will still need the netting and medication. My wife's view is that they will soon forget about the poults and start mating again. We are told, by the way, that mating continues all year here but I'll believe it when it happens.

    It seems sensible to buy an incubator to use as a backup if maternal instincts fail, or for part of each future clutch or for all of the eggs. Websites here are poor at SEO and it's taken me weeks to track down a supplier. No-one overseas that I have contacted is willing to export. Finally, I found a company on the edge of Bangkok that makes all sizes of incubator from home production to chicken factory so that problem will be solved as soon as I order one.

    This is the first time around the block for us and each day brings more learning, more fun and, sometimes, more concerns. We end daylight each day by watching them from our grass roofed gazebo until it's time for them to be shut away. That hour teaches us many things about the personality of each one. When the first hen began to sit one of the original stags, still only about 15 weeks old, went to the coop to see what was going on. I found him sitting on straw beside her nest, apparently trying to discover what pleasure she was enjoying. After about an hour he decided that there was nothing in it for him and left.

    We are having great fun with this venture and, boy, things move quickly.
     
  4. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    A pencil will work but it tends rub rub off and fade pretty quickly. Unless the hen is very flighty you shouldn't have any problems with them leaving the nest, or just wait 'till they come off themselves and then you can mark them.

    Whenever ours hatch the poults we move the hen and poults to smaller covered pen and keep them by themselves. We would loose quite a few before we started closing them in. An incubator would be good for a back up. I'm betting yours have more of an instinct to sit and raise poults since the birds you have now probably were hen raised. Here in the US it pick up the phone and call a hatchery and they are on your door step in no time.

    I can't even tell you how many hours we sit out back watching the birds. We are growing out new breeders this year so we will pull up chairs in the pen to decide who stays and who goes. It's very relaxing and always a learning experience. After all these years raising them I still make the comment. "never saw one do that before".

    Steve
     
  5. thaiturkey

    thaiturkey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks once again, Steve.

    Yes, they must be used to natural hatching and brooding. The air temperature and humidity is about right too! I don't know anyone who has an incubator other than the huge chicken factories.

    I've seen mothers and babies under the bamboo domes that some people have for cockerels. A couple of those with mozzie netting would probably be ideal.

    This first rush of eggs took us by surprise so we were slow to get sorted. We'll be more prepared next time, I hope.
     
  6. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    When I was overseas I don't remember seeing any incubators they all used broodies.

    Steve
     

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