What the world?!? Eggs???

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Cheers2Ya, Oct 22, 2018.

  1. Cheers2Ya

    Cheers2Ya Songster

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    I just wanted to make a post because I'm surprised and a little confused. I ordered day-old turkeys from a hatchery that were delivered April 5, 2018. They were a broad-breasted mix. I butchered all but one white hen. I also have a black Spanish. On August 31, I purchased three Red Bourbon's locally, which are younger than my current turkeys: one tom, two hens.

    My BBW started disappearing from the flock for hours at a time, and I always missed where she was going and could never find her. Then I noticed she had a beard! So, while I was slightly disappointed that my hen is apparently a tom, he was welcome to stay. But he still kept disappearing everyday.

    Over a couple weeks when he'd show back up, I was again convinced he was indeed a "she". Her snood never developed like a toms, even though she has a lovely small beard. Nearly two weeks ago I finally found her! She was sitting on a nest of 17 eggs down by the door of our dug-out walk-out basement. SEVENTEEN EGGS. The day after I found them, when she was off the nest, I grabbed an egg to candle it. It was really difficult to tell what was going on. So, with reservation, I opened it so I could see if it was fertile. It appeared the egg was developed to early the second week. Darnit - I killed a baby... 16 eggs left at this point.

    Now, if my calculations are correct, the remainder of the eggs should be hatching any day. However, over the last couple weeks the eggs have been diminishing in number and we are down to 6 for the past week. My dogs recently killed two raccoons in our yard, so I'm thinking they were the culprit. She is under a protective thing, out of direct weather, but I am not going to mover her at this point.

    So, points of surprise for me:
    1. My hen became a Tom, then a Hen again!
    2. My BROAD BREASTED hen laid a clutch of fertile eggs and is nesting at 5 months old!!!
    3. My First clutch of eggs is laid in fall in North Dakota where temperatures have been below freezing already.

    This was my first ever experience with turkeys when I ordered the day-olds in April. It has been a fun and very educational experience, especially after I thought I'd researched enough to know what to expect. What did I learn? Not to expect any particular thing!!!

    Just wanted to share a newbies experience with turkeys! I don't know if the remaining eggs will hatch or not, but I will surely update if they do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
    Cyprus likes this.
  2. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

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    Hens can also develop beards, but it is rare and their beards are typically smaller than males.
    As for broad breasted laying eggs; it is possible but usually doesn't happen because the birds are butchered before sexual maturity. It is like that with Cornish X chickens as well. Typically, they butchered at 2 months but there have been people who keep some pullets and they will lay, albeit not often.
    Since domestic Turkeys are not very far removed from wild Turkeys, I am not surprised that she is laying. However, 5 months is young. Maybe she will make a good mom.
    As for eggs disappearing, I would suspect a combination of Racoons and mom kicking out the nasties.
     
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  3. Cheers2Ya

    Cheers2Ya Songster

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    I did butcher the others and kept only her, but with the idea of maybe seeing if this one will lay next spring. I was not expecting it this fall already! I don't know if she'll be a good mom or not, or even if the remainder of the eggs will hatch, but I am excited to see what could potentially be new poults. Yes, her beard is small. I am familiar with cornishX, I've had chickens for 2-3 years now. I know the idea is similar with them and bb turkeys. I've never kept a cornishX to see about eggs.

    From what I've researched, with the Black being the fertilizer/father (unless she mated with a BBB or BBW before they were butchered), the poults will likely look like Blacks?

    I love love love having poultry and am having so much fun! Thanks for the reply!
     
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  4. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

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    How might you keep future poults safe? Lots of things like bite-sized baby turkeys.
     
  5. R2elk

    R2elk Free Ranger

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    1. It was only in your mind that your hen became a tom and then turned back into a hen. She was always a hen, It is not that rare for hens to have beards.
    Blue Slate hen with her beard.
    [​IMG]
    2. Laying eggs at 5 months old, while not common, does happen especially among hens that were hatched early in the year. Broad Breasted hens are good layers. If they weren't good layers the meat turkey industry would go out of business pretty quickly for lack of replacement birds. Broad breasted turkeys have been bred to lay year around so that turkeys can always be available to the meat industry. They are artificially inseminated at the commercial level because it is much more efficient than letting them breed on their own. Prior to artificial insemination the broad breasted turkeys were naturally bred by only using yearling toms and hens.
    3. If you want the eggs to hatch and the poults to survive, take the eggs in and put them in a hatcher or incubator. If she hatches the poults, take them away from her and put them in a brooder. Broad breasted hens do not make good mothers. It has nothing to do with them wanting the poults but mainly to do with the fact that broad breasted hens are not capable of moving their legs in the dainty manner that heritage hens can and many of the poults will end up getting stepped on and squashed.

    If the black tom is the father, the poults should all be Barred Black Semi-color but recessive white can hide all of the other color genes (dominant or recessive) so until they are hatched, there is no way to predict exactly what they will be. One thing that can help identify some of her hidden color genes is to check her eye color. If she has brown eyes, she is bronze based (b or b1) and if her eyes are blue, she is black based (B).
     
  6. Cheers2Ya

    Cheers2Ya Songster

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    I will be moving her and the poults into the secure, covered run as soon as they hatch. We just butchered our 50 cornishX on Saturday, so now the run is available. I did not expect a fall clutch, so I was not prepared. All the chickens and turkeys free range completely, but return to the coop and run at sundown (chickens to the coop, turkeys roost on the top rails of the run). The run is divided into two sections, one side is 100% secure and has a door, the other half secure when I close the main run door, which is usually always open. When I have babies in there, I close door of the run at night. The coop door closes on it's own at dusk, opens at dawn.

    Just to be clear: the one half of the run (12x32 ft) is equipped with feeders, waterers, shelter, and heat in the shelter when needed. We built is 12' tall and it is covered. This is where I will be relocating the turkey and poults if they hatch. Hope I explained that well enough.
     
    Cyprus likes this.
  7. Cheers2Ya

    Cheers2Ya Songster

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    Thanks for the reply!

    I know she didn't become a boy, then a girl. hahaha I just thought she was a hen, then I thought she was a tom when her beard began growing, then accepted that she is actually a she with a beard. We'll see how this clutch goes, I'm checking the nest daily. If they hatch, I will be moving them to the run where I brood my chicks. She is black-based, and when I did the Porter calculator, it looked like they would likely look like black spanish poults, if he was the fertilizer.

    The reason I wanted to share is because of all the research I did before getting turkeys, and since, and there are so many "not-that-common" things going on with my first turkeys. I thought maybe another newbie might benefit from this experience.
     
  8. R2elk

    R2elk Free Ranger

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    You are doing pretty good other than there really are no Black Spanish anymore. The APA only recognizes Black turkeys and does not distinguish among the different types that could be. Over seas they even call barred blacks Black Spanish. Originally Black Spanish designated black turkeys that were from a specific area since there was no difference between them and Norfolk Blacks just like there is no difference between other blacks and the brand named Artisan Gold turkeys. In my own experience, there is a difference between other black turkeys and Black Slates because of the band of blue (gray) feathers at the base of the tail. Some hatcheries are selling any black poults that hatch as Black Spanish no matter what the heritage.

    If she is black based, Porter's turkey color calculator says they will be Black Semi-Color and does not refer to Black Spanish anywhere.
     
  9. Cheers2Ya

    Cheers2Ya Songster

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    Thank you for the clarification. Somewhere along the lines I crossed my wires with Black Spanish and just Black. I assumed when someone said Black, they meant Black Spanish. Got it now! Yes, the hatchery sold him as a Black Spanish. Thanks for the help!
     
    R2elk likes this.

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