Friday, March 14, 2014

Brooding healthy turkeys

Looks like we might finally be heading toward spring here in the Midwest. 
On the farm, that means baby animals will soon be making their appearance. Whether you're raising 4H projects, Thanksgiving dinner or barnyard "watch dogs", that includes turkeys.

Unstressed poults fresh from the incubator.
Baby turkeys, or poults, require the same temperature in the brooder as other poultry. Start the temperature in the brooder at 95 degrees and lower it by five degrees each week. (Click the link for further details about building and heating a brooder.)

Turkeys are very susceptible to stress, which can cause problems. Usually, stress is caused by over-crowding or not lowering the temperature after the first week. The stress usually shows up at about the fourteenth day in the form of picking (cannibalism) of their wings and/or rear end. 

It is very important to watch for this, as a turkey that's picked will only last a couple of hours. I always say that the last turkey will pick himself to death.

There are two solutions that I have successfully used. Try to make it dark in the brooder and still maintain 90 degrees. Remember to leave enough light so they can eat and drink. You can also try putting tape over the picked parts. Masking tape works on the white birds and black electric tape works on the bronze. 

As always, post further questions in the comment section.

--Dale, aka Turkeyman