Hatching/Raising Poults: Hen vs Brooder

Amos-Moses

Songster
Nov 14, 2017
77
114
142
Alabama
I bought my first turkeys about 5 months ago (1 Standard Bronze tom, 1 SB hen, 2 Eastern Wild hens), and am expecting my hens to lay a few fertilized eggs this spring. I started thinking about the process of hatching eggs and raising poults, and for the life of me cannot think of a reason why I would want to collect the eggs, incubate them myself, raise the poults in a brooder, and then release them back out with the rest of the birds once they come of age. That seems like a whole lot of unnecessary work to me...why not just let the hens incubate/hatch their own eggs and raise their poults? For that matter, why would anybody go through the trouble of doing it themselves? I know there have got to be good reasons, since it seems like many people do incubate and brood, but as a newb to turkey husbandry I don't see the point.

Would anyone care to enlighten me? Should I be preparing to incubate eggs and brood poults this spring, or is my plan to leave it to the hens fine?
 

feedman77

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
2,933
2,472
281
Some hens are good mothers others can be careless.

A lot will depend what you want from your flock.

Replacement birds, meat birds, or poults for sale.

I incubate mine so I can get hatches when I want them. If my incubators get full then I let my hens brood a batch.

Because when they brood they stop laying. Some will start back up some won't. So if you have uses for eggs other than hatching and want a seasons worth of eggs don't let them brood.

The later in they laying season usually the least number of eggs the need to go broody.

My hens usually go broody at the drop of a hat. But it always seems to be when I don't want them broody.

Hatching myself just gives me a little bit of control
 

R2elk

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Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Feb 24, 2013
38,250
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Natrona County, Wyoming
My Coop
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I bought my first turkeys about 5 months ago (1 Standard Bronze tom, 1 SB hen, 2 Eastern Wild hens), and am expecting my hens to lay a few fertilized eggs this spring. I started thinking about the process of hatching eggs and raising poults, and for the life of me cannot think of a reason why I would want to collect the eggs, incubate them myself, raise the poults in a brooder, and then release them back out with the rest of the birds once they come of age. That seems like a whole lot of unnecessary work to me...why not just let the hens incubate/hatch their own eggs and raise their poults? For that matter, why would anybody go through the trouble of doing it themselves? I know there have got to be good reasons, since it seems like many people do incubate and brood, but as a newb to turkey husbandry I don't see the point.

Would anyone care to enlighten me? Should I be preparing to incubate eggs and brood poults this spring, or is my plan to leave it to the hens fine?
I incubate the early eggs in order to keep the turkeys laying. If you don't care about how many poults you hatch, by all means let the hens hatch them. Many times they will only lay one clutch of eggs, incubate them and brood them for one season. If the first clutch is lost/fails, they will likely try a second time.

If however you want to maximize how many poults are hatched, collect the eggs and use an incubator.

After I have incubated all the turkey eggs that I want to, I then let the hens keep their eggs and when they get a large enough clutch of eggs, they go broody and are typically done laying eggs for the season.

Letting turkey hens brood their own hatch can be a very ineffective way to increase your turkey numbers since so many things can go wrong. I personally take the poults from the hens as I find them for several reasons. I try to sell day old poults. It is much easier to show and capture the poults from a brooder than it can be trying to get them from a turkey hen, especially one that has a hidden nest.
 

Amos-Moses

Songster
Nov 14, 2017
77
114
142
Alabama
That all makes a lot of sense! Thanks for explaining. I think for my purposes letting the hens do all the work will be fine. I am only keeping turkeys as a 'hobby' right now, and not looking to maximize production.
 

BuckeyeBirdies

Chirping
Jul 28, 2016
34
61
75
Frazeysburg, Ohio
I also keep bronze turkeys. we were going to let our hen sit a clutch of ten she had. Well, she crushed half the eggs. I took her eggs, and put golf balls under her. I put her eggs in the incubator. As each poult hatched I went and put it under my hen. She was a great mother, but a little to clumsy with the eggs. Good luck with your new hobby! Turkeys are lots of fun!:woot
 

Amos-Moses

Songster
Nov 14, 2017
77
114
142
Alabama
Another good point for incubating!

Question just came to mind...
If a hen is going to sit and hatch her own eggs, does she roost at night? I’m wondering wether or not I should keep putting them in the coop at night once she starts laying.
 

feedman77

Crowing
6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
2,933
2,472
281
At least for mine if I don't pen them during laying season the will find the most out of the way place to nest.

They will keep it hidden from me. But predators find them. Usually find busted eggs at end of a feather trail.

When the hen goes broody she will stay on nest constantly. Usually only getting off once a day or 2. To eat drink and take a broody poop.
 

BuckeyeBirdies

Chirping
Jul 28, 2016
34
61
75
Frazeysburg, Ohio
My girls are good. We have a very large dog box in our chicken run. Even when they are out free ranging they always come to the dog box to lay their egg. I guess we are lucky, not having a daily "Easter egg" hunt. lol
 

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