Turkey questions

birdlover

Songster
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
1,770
15
183
Northern Va.
Hi! I'm taking care of the turkeys at the local fall festival but I don't know that much about them. Yesterday, the gobbler mounted one of the hens and it seemed like he stood on her forEVER!! She was making a sound like an alarm going off the whole time and they didn't seem to rub vents until an excruciatingly long time. Is that the way turkeys "do it"? Certainly not chicken-like!!

Another question: Today I found two soft shelled eggs in their coop. I assume this means the hens aren't getting enough calcium? They are on layer feed that chickens eat. I put some oyster shell in there in a bowl. Is there anything else I should do? Thanks for any info you can give me.

Ellen
 

ml

Songster
12 Years
Mar 4, 2007
427
22
161
Yikes Ellen the toms can kill the hens. He was trying to mate her. This is not a good thing. Keep that turkey away from the hens.

ML
 

Kev

Crowing
12 Years
Jan 13, 2008
6,517
702
361
Sun City, California
That is exactly the way turkeys mate. Dude alternates between what looks like side stepping, just plain standing, repeat until he finally sits down and rubs vents like you said. Some toms or sometimes, this process goes quicker.. others forever.. It is quite ridiculous yet horrifying to watch.

It is OK if they mate occasionally or the hens only squat once a day or less.. however some hens demand frequent breedings for whatever reason and those can get themselves badly hurt.

It is not a good idea if the hens are a heritage or small breed and the tom is a broadbreasted. It's not a good idea to let broadbreasteds mate.. they have such awkward bodies making injuries much more prone(not to say it never happens in other turkeys).

Separating the tom from the hens is fine.. however if the hens don't want to mate, there isn't anything he can do about it- unlike chickens, turkeys pretty much can't force a mating. He'll constantly try to woo the hens though.
 

birdlover

Songster
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
1,770
15
183
Northern Va.
Very interesting! Thanks, Kev. These turkeys are Narragansettes. sp? There's one tom and 2 hens. Are those considered broadbreasted? Okay, so the hen has to ask for it before he can get on? I know they mated twice the other day; not sure other than that day. I really don't have a place to separate them! Do you think I could just sort of keep an eye out on her (it's just one that squats, I believe)?

Ellen
 

Marlinchaser

Songster
12 Years
Oct 18, 2007
4,943
23
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MERRY LAND
Quote:I think the Hens are TURKEY hens, not chicken hens. If that is the case let him have his way with her, the soft eggs may just be first eggs, and hens body hasnt adjusted right yet.
 

Kev

Crowing
12 Years
Jan 13, 2008
6,517
702
361
Sun City, California
Ah, didn't think of the hen, turkey hen confusion.

Narragansetts aren't broadbreasteds. They are a heritage turkey, basically the "turkeys from the days of old before broadbreasteds were developed". If you think of an old homestead with turkeys ranging around the yard.. that's a heritage turkey, basically. Hertiages are supposed to be able to breed naturally(in fact anything that cannot breed naturally well isn't considered a heritage type).

Yes the hens ask for it before he can breed at all. The hen voluntarily squats down in a weird and stiff posture and "stiffens" as soon as the tom touches her. The usual posture includes squashing the wings against the ground and turning her head down wards while rising her neck. Toms get very excited at seeing that posture but they will try their luck at any hen that happens to be just sitting.. lol If she doesn't want to mate she will just stand up and that's that.

If she wants to mate too often, that can be a concern, as you saw the mating is very rough, repeats of that can lead to injury. Some owners get what are called turkey saddles(or aprons) it's a homemade fabric thing you put over the hens to protect their backs during mating. I'm not sure where you can get one.. try asking around on here or do a search on eggbid & ebay for "turkey saddles"?

Anyways, have fun with those turkeys. It is interesting to watch them sometimes eh?
 

houndit

There is no H or F in Orpington!
11 Years
Jul 13, 2008
2,231
111
244
Braymer Missouri
The turkeys do take forever to mate and the hen makes a weird noise like she is getting hurt. Broad breasted toms would be the only ones likley to hurt a hen. I just leave them be. The wild turkeys mate and they do not have people to worry about if it is to often or not. As for the soft shell, I have never in my life had a soft turkey egg so I do not know what to tell you.
 

birdlover

Songster
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
1,770
15
183
Northern Va.
Gosh, I'm sure learning a lot about turkeys!!! Thanks, guys!!! You have put my mind at ease and Drumstick will remain with the two hens.
I've been getting eggs from the hens for two or three weeks now. Hopefully, there won't be anymore soft shell ones. By the way, do you all eat their eggs? I've eaten duck eggs but never turkey eggs. Do they taste like chicken eggs? They aren't much bigger!!
 

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