Need help please - hatching wild turkeys


In the Brooder
9 Years
Sep 13, 2010
Norwalk, Iowa
I'm sure this answer may be out there somewhere but I can't find it and getting nervous. A friend of ours came across a hen that was on eggs; he scared her, scattered the eggs therefore gathered them up and took them home. He put them in an incubator and gave them to us; he has done this before and has had great luck. He explained all what we needed to do which I believe we have done well at, so far. Anyway, today, Friday, May 18th would be the 28th day since we have "received" them, not knowing for sure when she laid them. I, as of today, have 4 little ones running around, we have 6 eggs to go. These four hatched on Wednesday the 16th. My father has been checking on them, said the four are doing good (eathing and drinking a little) and then mentioned he turned the eggs for us (have them marked with X's and O's), told him thank you very much but don't turn anymore! He didn't know and I'm guessing after what I read we shouldn't be turning anymore. Anyhow, he said he has not seen any movement from the eggs. Shouldn't we be? I worry about them not being able to get out or something and just want to help and crack them or something. Do I wait 2 - 3 more days? We were really hoping to have had more of them hatch. It is our first time and feel we followed all the right steps, but just don't know what to do at this point. Sorry about the book, any suggestions would help. Oh, the incubator is one where we had to lift the lid in order to turn them, kept the temp at about 98-100 degrees. Thank you.
I raised an Eastern Wild and helped a friend hatch and raise some. Any advice on hatching domestic turkeys will be useful in hatching your wilds. By the way - you should let your farmer friend know that, unless the Mother hen has DIED, or unless those eggs were SERIOUSLY scattered far apart (which my limited imagination is not allowing me to fathom right now), then the hen could very likely recollect her eggs and the best advice, as usual, is to leave them alone. My father once put one of my hen's eggs on a low shelf across the coop from her nest (about 12 feet away).. he didn't know what he was doing. My hen eventually went over, tapped the egg down onto the plush cedar bedding I had down, and EVER so gently tippy-tapped her egg back over to her nest!

Anyhow - about your eggs, all the information you read on eggs hatching within 24 hrs of each other, etc is pretty typical. However, it IS possible that eggs could hatch as much as a few days apart. My hen had poults hatching a week apart once but that was because of human interference with her laying. Crazy things can happen though. If you've done everything right with the temp, humidity, and turning (and you have had those other wild poults hatch), then I wouldn't give up just yet. I'm not a leading expert on here, but I don't think anyone on here will recommend you "helping" by cracking any eggs or even poking a tiny hole. I think the only time you do that is if it seems definitely hopeless and you're more curious about what IS inside, since you suspect a baby is NOT. I'm curious - when your father turned the eggs was that yesterday (the day after the other four hatched)?? If so, did you turn them back? Im sure you're familiar with the "lock down" period during the last few days of incubation where there should be NO changes in heat, temperature, turning/movement, etc. If others had already hatched and you had already stopped turning the eggs - then I would have probably (as unobtrusively as possible and with gloves or very clean hands) turned it back and then left it alone. Also - did you candle the eggs when you first got them? It is possible that some of the eggs weren't fertile, or stopped developing at some point, just like with domestics.

Without knowing more, I don't know what else to say. I definitely wouldn't give up hope yet but I definitely would NOT break open an egg or crack it even a little, IF you would like them to still have a chance of survival. It's still only a couple of days since the first four hatched right? That's not too long for them to just be delayed. IF any pip, the hole should be facing upwards.. not sideways or downwards.. so if you see a tiny hole and it's not facing towards the ceiling, it would be fine to turn the hole towards the ceiling. That's what a hen would do. Otherwise, I would leave the eggs alone especially for right now, though. If you begin opening an egg too early, the poult will HAVE to come out because it can know longer sustain within the egg at that point.. and if it's NOT done cooking yet, even by a day or two, it will be premature and you can cause serious problems including death. Good luck... I will cross my fingers with you that the rest make their way into this world safely!! They're such beautiful birds. If you have a moment to answer my question about the egg turning and whether or not you had candled them, or any other details, please do! I would be curious to know. And would love an update either way!
Thanks so much for getting back to me, I've been waiting for some sort of reply. I don't know about the mother coming back or not. My husband's friend just told us that the hen usually don't come back after spooking her like that and so we don't know any better. Yes, I did do the flashlight thing to them and all I could see was a solid black something in the egg. I couldn't make out details but could tell something was in the eggs. I don't want to open the eggs out of curosity, I just figured maybe they need help or something, I don't know. Was thinking I'd be giving them a chance or something. My dad turned them yesterday and no I haven't turned them back.

I just looked and don't see any little holes or anything. The one thing I worry about is when the 1st 4 were born, I rushed home from work and was all excited, checked them out; was trying to help the 4th one a little for she was having issues; little feet were kinda curled and she couldn't get her head up, and this was a while so we really thought she wasn't going to make it. I got up 3-4 times a night thinking about her, each time, seemed just a little better; finally at 6:15 this morning, I went in there and she was standing! I was so happy, litte balance issue but she as going to be fine. Anyway, I had the lid off for a little bit and after reading about that shrinkwrap thing..... I just thought oh my gosh, I didn't know,,,, probably hurt them and I didn't realize it, but I don't believe it was a minute or two I had it off.
I just think I would at lease see movement from them now. Anyway, we'll leave them alone, maybe give them til Monday? I do hope they hatch, but I ill say, I have learned so much this last week or so, I know and understand a little more then I did. Again, thank you again for your note. I figured well, we do have 4 so that will be neat to have around here.
Have a good night; I'll keep you posted though.
Hey Melody. No problem... the whole reason I got into turkeys was because a stray cat brought me a 3-day-old Eastern Wild turkey in it's mouth, miraculously unharmed!! I didn't even know what type of bird it was lol, except I guessed it was a "game bird" and not a flight bird. Someone could have told me it was a quail though and I would have believed it! :) Anyhow, BYC was an invaluable resource for me throughout the whole process and still is! From hatching, to raising, feeding, injuries and sickness, laying, and hatching again!! haha. It's nice to get difference opinions, advice, information and it seems there's ALWAYS more to learn about these interesting birds!

If all of the eggs looked the same (having a big black area with a defined air sac and not real sloshy/watery) than it sounds like they all had developing poults inside. As for the poult that took a long time - that can happen and it's usually recommended that you don't help it, remove any of the shell, or interfere. In my last clutch, an egg pipped in the morning - just a tiny little hole but I could see an eye blinking at me in there! The mother was towards the end of her patience with hatching cause it had been a long hatch and she was off the nest all day. I put a heating lamp closer to the nest to keep it warm and made some turkey noises at it to encourage it to keep trying (it did peck at the hole a couple of times when I called to it.. other poult/chick noises, hen noises, or even talking can encourage them to come out), but other than that I left it alone. That night, the hen hopped back on the nest and the next morning, there was still just a tiny hole! It wasn't until the next night, when she got back on her nest again (after being off all day again) that it finally hatched! That's not normal, per se, but the point is that I left it alone and nature worked itself out. I have always been given the advice that the poult/chick knows when it's ready. I understand you've had a couple of not-so-ideal things happen with these eggs.. but yeah I would still just be patient and I think there's still a chance.

If it were me, personally, well, I would actually give it a full week from the time that the other ones hatched before giving up on them, JUST in case. It's such a hard decision - but I don't think I could ever risk cracking the egg open and have the poult NOT ready to hatch and be in pain. With mild cases of poults/chicks hatching prematurely (sometimes they hatch prematurely naturally, without any human interference), I've heard of bloody stomachs and development problems, weakness, rear end problems and weepy bottoms. With very premature ones, I've heard of it being bloody and looking like their guts were coming out of their stomachs and then they died. I just couldn't put myself through that to watch them suffer like that. At least if they don't make it out of the egg, they don't suffer and die painlessly. Like I said - it's tough to decide what's best. The only thing I wish I could answer - and I can't... is whether or not to turn the eggs at this point. If I had to guess - I would say that when those four hatched, the other 6 were probably in the correct position within the egg and should NOT have been turned. However - they were turned. But now that it's been another (one day or two days??) since they were turned.. if they're still alive, they may have already gotten BACK into the correct position within the egg. I think at this point, it would be best just to leave them alone, make sure there's NO MORE interference, changes in position or temperature, etc and just wait. If possible, I would recommend that you keep the other newborn poults within ear-shot of the eggs. Their chirping/crying can help encourage those eggs to hatch if they're still good. It sort of ignites their hatching instinct and lets them know that something will be out there waiting for them when they break free of the shell. If you can SAFELY do that - like if you have the brooder and the incubator next to each other or in the same room. Wild turkeys are very hardy and both domestic and wild poults have amazed me with their ability to persevere and heal, etc. I look forward to getting updates and you are in for an entire learning adventure! lol. The wild turkey I had was very healthy the whole time and I raised him up into a big beautiful jake. During his first mating season (and after I bought him domestic turkey friends, of course), he took off to wander and multiply lol. But... it was one of the single most rewarding, interesting, and deeply touching experiences of my life. I will certainly never forget him.
Hello. That is real neat about the one you raised. Well, we had 4, one seemed to had trouble walking, but the time I left for work one morning, I was so happy, seemed to have done better and trying to eat. However, as of last night, Tim went to check them and came out carrying her, I was so upset. I couldn't believe she had died, just don't know why but he said she never seemed really right. Anyway, have three, doing good; however I can't keep them close to the eggs. We have this pretty big cage for the babys but it's out in this barn/shed that we have. It's set up with the heat lamps and stuff, needed to get them out of my spare bathroom which s where we had them. The eggs are in the incubator in a spare bedroom and don't have anywhere we could keep the babys in there. We're giving them a few more days. Tim was going to toss them tomorrow, Monday, but we decided to to just leave them alone and give them a chance, don't have anything to loose really. You'd think they'd be at least moving though a little. Tell me this though, if a hen could lay on them outside and get off and on sometimes, not regulating the heat and humidty, why would me taking off the lid bother them really, except for maybe loosing a little heat, but didn't have the lid off that long. I'm trying to understand that shrinkwrap deal, but.... I don't know. I just hop I didn't do that to them, but,,, guess it's part of learning. Now i want to order some more eggs and try it again. :) I've got some laying hens though that we need to get rid of; think a neighbor wants them. They are still laying good, but starting to slow down. Just little hard for raised them since chicks and there are a few that I really like, they like being picked up and held. One was really bad, lost a lot of feathers, everyone thought I should get rid of her she looked so bad, then the others were picking on her real bad, she was always hiding. I keep her seperate though and she comes running to me, wants picked up and stuff. I'm keeping her. Well, thanks so much for the note. OH.. I do have one of the three that seems to not open one eye, wonder if we should give them anything in their water or medicine?? It's not watery or anything, just little closed. Well, I'll give you a holler in a couple days or so, let you know. Thanks again. :)

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom