broody Narragansett on 7 freshly hatched poults, what comes next?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by exop, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. exop

    exop Songster

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    Have a first time broody Narragansett turkey who has hatched out a clutch of eggs, on a hay nest in a doghouse. 7 poults, now about 12 - 7 hours out of the shell. I'm not sure what to expect from her in terms of behavior, maternal care, when she will try to take the poults places and do things, etc... the first time I hatched turkeys was last year, and an experienced mother hen was in the driver's seat.
    What should I expect from my new turkey family over the next couple of days?

    Mainly, I want to be able to make sure I provide for their needs, prevent harm to the chicks, and make it easy for the hen to do the right thing.

    While she was broody, I would take her out occasionally to feed and poop; last time was on Friday. Should I try this again anytime soon? Factors I am worried about: the wrath of the mother turkey, the welfare of the chicks while she is on break, VS. the welfare of the chicks if she eventually decides to take matters into her own hands (the doghouse is closed off with wire right now to keep chicks from falling out - 6 inch drop - and other things from getting in). So far, no outward sign of the chicks, they are all peacefully snoozing under their mother and do not appear to be walking yet.

    Thanks for any guidance.

    Best - exop

    PS. Have left one unhatched, likely unviable egg under her, to encourage her to stay in place
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  2. exop

    exop Songster

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    Make that 8 poults. So far, everything is good. The mother has stayed in the dog box with her clutch, and seems to be taking great care not to step on anyone, moving at a glacial pace and often, on her haunches. At a day old they are now toddling around a little, and some are interested in eating bits of green stuff. Generally unsuccessfully unless the greenery has been cut into tiny pieces first. Mostly under their mother, presumably staying cozy and dozing. Have taken my life into my hands to remove several adult turkey turds from the hay; now that incubation is over she seems to feel less inhibited about relieving herself and much, much less kind and forgiving toward nest invaders. The turkey attack move where one bites firmly, then alternately jabs the head forward and yanks it backward all while rapidly twisting the beak from side to side, which looks a little ineffectual from a distance, is not such a good thing to be on the receiving end of.

    Best - exop
     
  3. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon

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    How do you have food and water set-up? Is doghouse big enough to place a feeder/water inside?

    Yas, yas... long sleeved shirt and gloves... https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/671185/turkey-hens-and-snakes-pic-heavy
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  4. exop

    exop Songster

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    Morning of the second day (today) I added water in a chick waterer, and a few piles of wet mash and snipped clover on a tray. I've spotted the chicks several times standing around in a group, nibbling on the foods and tasting the water. Smoother than expected - no trampled babies, spilled containers or havoc. Somewhere I've read of turkey hens being clumsy and absentminded, that really doesn't seem to be the case here.

    Best - exop
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  5. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon

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    If the hen gets spooked, or really wants out, she could, indeed, squash/injure poults. This assumes that the doghouse nest/brooder isn't that big.
     
  6. exop

    exop Songster

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    It's a fairly large, though not huge, doghouse. Maybe, 2.5 x 3 feet? Hopefully I'll be letting them out as a group tomorrow or soon, with a sort of ramp for entry / egress. A little dubious about this as last year, related turkey poults (including the mother and father of current hatch) were completely baffled by the doghouse and tried to get into it via every route but the front door.

    Best - exop
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  7. mommasoybean

    mommasoybean Hatching

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    I'm very interested in your updates and input from anyone who has experience with turkey hatches. My Narrangansett hen just hatched 14 or 15 chicks! I can't get an exact count because they move around. The difficulty is that my turkeys and chickens are free-ranged and she and the babies are extremely vulnerable in our woods. She had a hatch last year and we tried to put her and the babies in an inclosed in area but she went crazy trying to get out so we let her and the chicks go free. She had six chicks, we gave two away and the remaining four died - two because of my dog, and the other two from unknown causes.

    She found a much better place for her nest this year, but is now wondering the woods with her babies. She is a GREAT momma, but she can barely fit the day-olds under her now. I don't think she can take care of so many. I'm thinking of taking at least half and brooding them myself. The other option is to pen them in so the momma can get out but the babies can't. This would still make them vulnerable to predators who could also come and go.



    If anyone has suggestions, I would appreciate it.
     
  8. exop

    exop Songster

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    My worries about turkey motherhood seem to have been unfounded. On day 3, after she showed interest in getting out and I opened the wire door, she took all the still tottery chicks on a short (distance wise) but lengthy (duration) walk around the nearby shrubbery ... then went back into the house for everyone to nap. The following day, this happened again, and as I had to leave for the afternoon I locked them up when they returned to the house, but was told that "they" (she) wanted to get back out some time later. From day 5 onwards, the house has been opened in the morning and the turkey has taken her 8 children on a series of lengthy, even grueling hikes around different parts of the yard, returning to turkey central every few hours for food and water. She has spent several days coaching them to jump off a two foot rock wall (learn to fly, children!), and on Sunday succeeded in getting everyone to do it. They looked a little like baby wood ducks dropping through the air, but they all made it. 7th day of life. Apparently turkey ideals of parenthood include something about exercise and something about endurance. And though I had been concerned she would take them all off someplace new for the night, everyone goes back to the doghouse to sleep.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  9. exop

    exop Songster

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    A couple weeks ago she quit taking her chicks to the doghouse every night, and moved to a weedy spot in a disused dog pen right behind it. Not so bad, as the dog pen could be closed up at night, providing some protection from ground-based predators like coyotes. At first, it was porous to chicks - they were small enough to pass through the chainlink walls like vapor - and the mother could enter / exit either by flying over the top, or through the door if it had been left open. Thus, in case of a predator on the turkey side of the fence (which never happened), the mother could fly out and the chicks could escape through the walls, leaving trouble behind.

    The chicks have gotten large enough now that only one of them can go through the walls. They are much stronger fliers now, and a week ago when I dragged a raccoon in a havahart trap through the yard, the turkey mother caught sight of it and gave an alarm call (WICK! WICK! WICK! WICK!) that sent all her chicks whizzing into the air like a flock of disturbed pigeons. They dispersed in all directions and fled into gardens and shrubbery, and with the raccoon gone it took awhile for her to muster them together again (Whonk whonk whonk! (from the mother) deet DEET DEET! (from the now worried poults)).

    Last night - with the chicks exactly 4 weeks of age - they all slept in a tree for the first time, a sweetgum with lots of crisscrossing horizontal branches. The group of them were well up into the tree and had settled down on the same branch... this comes after several days of dress rehearsals where everyone would ascend into the tree near the end of the day (hopping from the top of a nearby barbecue), climb to a safe altitude, and sit for awhile before the mother turkey would fly down to the lawn, wait as the chicks followed one by one, and lead the group over to their sleeping place in the weeds.

    It's hard to believe these guys are only 4 weeks old (as the BYC byline date tells me). Sunday, two days ago I was lucky enough to see a couple of poults come around a corner where they were startled by a benign rooster. Both poults raised their heads in unison and for a split second gave a high pitched "wa wa wa". Couldn't believe my ears! Baby gobbling.

    Best - exop
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  10. mommasoybean

    mommasoybean Hatching

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    I agree - these turkeys make great moms. Mine let me put her and the babies in the shed. Last year I couldn't even put a fence around her and the babies without her going crazy. It's like she remembers the loss of all her babies. After the first week, I let her out while I babysat. She took a quick dust-bath then came right back. Now, I let her out and she goes back to the shed on her own and stands by the door until I let them all in.

    Watching this turkey hen through this whole process has been the most exciting and rewarding of all my experiences on our hobby farm. I don't know how I'm going to deal with selling the poults but I have too because 17 turkeys is just too much for us.
     

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