Poult Mortality Hen Raised vs Brooded by Humans

the simple life

11 Years
May 2, 2008
Weymouth, Massachusetts
I keep hearing about how fragile poults are for the first 8 weeks or so. There seems to be alot of guidelines such as raising them on wire and things of that nature in order to keep them safe.

Is it much better if they are raised by their turkey momma? If they are on the ground from an early age with momma taking them out to the barnyard and pecking around in the ground and being protected from the others?
Or is there more chance of accidents with them being exposed to the rest of the flock and sort of being on their own more.
I constantly hear conflicting information regarding how poults are always looking for new ways to get themselves killed vs no that never happens to ours.
It seems I hear most of the deaths are from accidents.

To be fair, it does seem like I hear the high death rates from the average joe turkey raiser like myself compared to the never happens to us from the professional turkey raisers, so maybe it has to do with how long you have been doing it for, how prepared you are, or maybe even how hearty the stock is that you raise.
Perhaps ( I really don't know) they let their hens hatch their eggs and brood them. If that is the case then maybe the hen raised does have something going for it.
Tell me if I am way off base here because I am probably just reaching but I find it a little unnerving that I am about to raise something that I have been told already has one foot out the door.

I am just curious as to the mortality rates between one method and the other and if one method has been recognized to be more risky can someone identify what the main reasons are for it and how it can be prevented.

Thanks for any insight you successful or unsuccessful turkey growers can give.
Poult mortality will always be the highest in `natural' circumstances. If one is breeding for the improvement of the variety alone, then by all means expose the poults to conditions that will favor the best by culling (vagaries of weather/accident/etc.) the unlucky and unfit. Individual hens can run the gamut from very good mothers to loss leaders that build their nests 12 ft. off of the ground in hickory snags. Poults that imprint on hens will be a little less amenable to human direction (potential management problems).

Those that are hand raised can be less attuned to threats and can present a management problem owing to their attempts to work `their humans' into their flock structure.

We wouldn't raise them if we were unable to control the greatest number of those variables that, allowed to fluctuate willy nilly, result in increased potential for losses (poults do very well if they survive the first 24hr., are taught to eat and drink and aren't exposed to low temps).

If I had the time and space to devote to the improvement of a particular variety, the approach would be much different.

(`improvement' meaning the breeding `out' of some of the more egregious faults bred-in on the road to `perfect color' and `just-so' pencilling, etc.)
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Wow I was glad to see this thread on the first page. I hope I don't offend anyone by adding my own question about it, but I don't see the point of starting a new thread for mine...

I have eggs due to hatch in a week (Momma went off and hid, scared the heck out of us!)
Should I take them from her when they hatch, or let her raise them? I know they would be safer in my house, but it seems horribly mean to make her sit them for a month and then not let her raise up her babies.. Not to mention all the stray cats that wander the neighborhood.

Will mom freak out if I take them?
If you cannot provide a secured shelter for mom and her poults you run a very real risk of losing them all, mom included. If you have predators in your area the new family will be in extreme danger untill the poults get to be several weeks old. Obviously it is your decision but if it were me I would slap something together for them or take the poults from her.
Sorry Simple Life. Regarding your question I have only incubated but would like to let a hen or 2 brood in the future. I will only do that if I can provide a nice size private shelter and run for mom and poults. Have heard too many sad stories from people who tried to let mom raise a batch with no physical protection. Have heard of some great successes too but it would keep me up at night worrying without a shelter. Even with the mortality will probably be higher than brooding them yourself.
ugh now I'm worried. It's supposed to be super cold tonight (less than 32). I'm worried about her and her eggs.

Howdy silkiechicken! Actually I'm Lake Stevens now that I got annexed
Not real happy about it.
I wouldn't worry about warmth -- momma can keep them warm. I'd worry most about predators (including barn cats, dogs, other turkeys). Give them a clean, dry (non-dirt) environment and high protein feed, and a pen for predator protection and they should be fine.
The only time I've lost hen-raised poults was to predators.
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