Help...turkeys nesting for more than 35 days

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Leese13, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. Leese13

    Leese13 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2013
    I have two female turkeys (only just started laying not long before, and are with a male) that have been nesting on eggs for 35+ days now. They are nesting in the chicken boxes of all places. They have often changed places leaving the eggs for more than several hours at a time. I have checked some of the eggs, stealing them and cracking open, nothing but just a normal egg yolk. Should I let them still sit on them for who knows how long or should I take away the eggs so they can move on?
    I should add, we have a female duck who has taken it upon herself to steal some of their eggs early on and added them to hers and she is sitting on those also. There is no make duck, so no ducklings, she just must have wanted to join in. She is very protective of her nest. Should I be doing the same for her, taking them away?
    The eggs they are all sitting on is a mix of turkey, duck and chicken. I think the duck liked to steal anyone's eggs, hence my shortage of chook eggs at present.
    The boxes are starting to get a bit smelly and starting to attract flies as we are getting warmer weather here in Victoria, Australia.
    So please if you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I would candle all of the eggs to see if any are developing. Have you done that before? If not, its pretty easy. Just take a torch and go out after dark. One by one, take an egg from under her (she won't argue too much since she'll be sleepy), and make an "O" with your thumb and forefinger. Place the egg in the "O", and then put the torch on the bottom of the egg so it is touching. If you can see through the egg (practice on an egg that hasn't been incubated first) it may as well be tossed, as after 35 days, it is not developing. If it looks dark, there is a fetus inside, and you can put it back under the hen. Make two piles as you go - one for the developing and one for the clears. That way, when you're done, you can put only the developing eggs back under her. If they are all clear, remove them, and hopefully in a day or two she will give up and leave the nest.
     
  3. Leese13

    Leese13 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have never done the candling thing before as this is the first time with females that have mated. I will give it a try. Will I be able to get it from the duck as well? She is a lot feistier than the turkeys. Can you tell me how long eggs can last/survive without a hen sitting on them? As they are new to it as well, they have been changing nests occasionally leaving eggs unattended, not sure for how long each time. I have attached a photo of where they are nesting - in the chook boxes. Very cramped for them, duck is comfy.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh, that is too funny to see the turkey trying to fit! The duck looks like a muscovy? That is what I keep too...

    There are multiple questions in your post - I'll try to address them all.

    Broodies are a strange bunch. All they want to do is sit - they don't care what they are sitting on as long as it is vaguely egg shaped. I've heard of a broody hen who valiantly tried to hatch walnuts for many weeks. They don't feel proprietary about "their" eggs, and don't have any bond to any particular egg, whether they've been sitting on it for a day or a month. It is not at all unusual for them to get up to take their broody break, then return to a different nest to sit. As long as they have at least one egg under them, they're happy.

    What I try to do, to avoid having a hen sit on an egg and then abandon it for another nest the day before its due to hatch, is to segregate each broody into a separate area. That doesn't mean you have to have a zillion coops sitting around - it can be as simple as taking a piece of chicken wire and stretching it across a corner of the coop. Place the hen into the segregated area with her nest and the eggs, add a small feeder and waterer (preferably far enough away that she has to actually step off the nest to reach it) and voila. Now, unfortunately, I've made that sound simpler than it is because, having minds of their own, sometimes they don't want to move to the new location. I've had the best success moving them at night. Even then, sometimes when they wake up next morning and don't recognize their surroundings, they'll jump off the nest and pace looking for a way out. I've had to practice "tough love" a few times, and lock them into the new nest until they've accepted it as their own. Usually a few hours to a day is all it takes. Just make sure to remove the barricade that is keeping her in her nest a couple of times a day to let her out to potty, eat and drink, and once she has done all three, place her back on the nest and replace the barricade. Once she seems to have accepted the new nest, remove the barricade permanently so she has free choice about when to take future breaks.

    If your duck is anything like mine, she'll make a fuss and get a little vocal (my broody ducks sound like squeaky toys) when you try to reach under her to get eggs, but won't take it to the next level.

    Quote: Tough to say as there are so many factors. The warmer your ambient temperature, the longer they can survive. It is perfectly normal for the hen to leave the nest for 20-30 minutes to potty, eat and drink, and leave the eggs to cool. A dedicated broody will race around to take her break, rushing to get back to her nest, as nature tells her not to let them cool for too long (as said above, she doesn't always return to the right nest but generally she is in a hurry to get back to "a" nest). I've also had a power outage while running incubators, and even with the power off for several hours, the chicks hatched no worries. So - there is a period they can survive. Our summers where I live now are so hot we have temps in the mid to high 30's and 40's celcius for weeks at a time. Obviously, a broody hen can leave the nest far longer in mid-summer than she can in early spring when temps are far cooler. Also, the closer a chick is to hatching, the longer the eggs can cool, as the chick starts to be able to regulate its own temperature somewhat, in preparation for life on the outside.

    Candling is definitely your first step. I'd be concerned about eggs incubated for 35 days that have not yet hatched. It is possible the tom is not doing his job and the eggs were never fertile, or that she did return to the wrong nest one too many times and hasn't got many or any to survive. If your duck is a muscovy, her eggs will need roughly 35 days to hatch anyway (chickens 21, turkeys and most ducks 28, muscovies 35). But the 35 for a muscovy is only a rough number. This year I had a muscovy sit through days 35 and 40 and 45 and figured the eggs were duds. Then on day 46 they hatched.

    So candling will tell you a lot. There is a great series of pics here that will give you an idea of what to look for - the difference between a clear eggs and a developing, etc: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...g-candling-pics-progression-though-incubation

    Good luck and let us know how it goes...
     
  5. Leese13

    Leese13 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2013
    Thankyou so much for your advice. I will try the candling thing and see how it goes. But I am guessing there will be no good ones. Maybe our male turkey didn't do his job properly or the females being young didn't know either.
     
  6. Leese13

    Leese13 Out Of The Brooder

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    I had a look at the link attached to your reply. That was very helpful, as I would not have had a clue what to look for when I try the candling. It really makes me want baby chicks now. Maybe next time, and with an incubator too.

    Thanks again .[​IMG]
     

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