Sad, Happy, Sad, Happy Turkeys

fertilised turkey eggSometimes life feels a bit like a rollercoaster here. At the weekend, I finally cracked open the turkey eggs that were in the incubator. They were way past their due date and nothing had happened so I was pretty sure nothing would happen. There was just runny yolky fluid in them all, except this one. I am guessing that the others were not fertilised, or they got too cold before we put them in the incubator. This one may have been fertilised, but it certainly didn’t develop very far.

I got back from London late on Tuesday night and the first thing I did Wednesday morning was go and check on the sitting turkeys. It was fantastic, the eggs were hatching. I could see two chicks so I backed off and left her to it. A storm was forecast for Wednesday evening, but luckily when I went back to check the hen had left her nest and now, with at least three chicks, she was sitting under the shelter. She had abandoned 5 eggs in the nest. I put them in the incubator for a day or so, but as nothing happened, I cracked them open and there was just yolk again!

Leftover egg

Leftover egg

We now come to Thursday morning. The hen and stag were standing like proud parents over a little brood of six – yes six – chicks. I was beside myself with excitement. They all seemed to be doing well. I made sure there was chick crumb available and water and then I had to dash as I was going with a friend to hospital _ I didn’t get a photo.

Turkey family

Turkey family

I got back home at 4pm and went straightaway to check on the turkeys – still feeling very excited. However, I couldn’t see any chicks. I searched around in the longish grass and eventually found two.

Hiding in the grass

Hiding in the grass

But where were the other four? For the next hour I looked, but I couldn’t find them, nor could I find any signs of foul play. I have no idea where four of my gorgeous little turkey chicks went to. This though left me with a dilemma.  Do I leave the remaining two with their mummy, or do I take them into protective custody and pop them in the brooder. I agonized about it for a while and then decided on the brooder, at least they will be safe and warm there. Hopefully the hen will start to lay some more eggs and may even hatch out another brood. I think she did remarkably well to hatch out 6 from 11 eggs this early in the year as when the eggs were first laid, and before she started to sit it was quite cold at night.

Chicks in their new home

Chicks in their new home

The chicks were a little squeaky to start with, but we turned the heat lamp up a bit – I think they had got cold during the day. I was worried that they weren’t eating, but they have now started to eat bits of crumb and a little scrambled egg. They are making content peeping sounds rather than distressed squeaks and are quite active.

N.B. The other hen is still sitting on about 6 eggs. I will give her another day or so and then remove them. She was a bit flakey with sitting to start with so I don’t hold out much hope for these eggs having developed properly.



6 responses to “Sad, Happy, Sad, Happy Turkeys

  1. I think you were right to rescue them! They are just perfect. Hope the others show up soon. Could your cats have gotten to the other 4?
    Fox? Dogs? So many possibilities.

    • I don’t think the cats got them – after all we have 8 silkie chicks in the front garden and the cats leave them alone. In general the cats know not to mess with hens and the mummies are quite good at defending them. I don’t think the turkey hen was very good at keeping the chicks warm once she started to move around. I suspect that in the long wet grass they got cold and died. Possibly then magpies would have taken them. The two live chicks we brought inside were very cold and in the hour I was out there I didn’t see her sit on them to warm them up at all. Once inside we kept having to turn up the heat on the brooder to stop them squeaking. They are both doing really well now so I think it was the right thing to do. Another steep learning curve!

  2. They are beautiful. Choices around things like this are always a crap shoot. Will they now be your chicks or will the momma take them back at some point to raise?

    • We will keep them until they are bigger. I will probably end up putting them in the front garden for a while with the silkies. When they are big enough they can be reintroduced to the rest of the turkey ‘flock’. Mummy seems fine – I think she may have forgotten about them already x

  3. Pingback: Squashed Turkeys | smallholding dreams·

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