I picked up the first batch of turkeys last evening from NEPPA hatchery in Fort Plain. They are broadbreasted bronze turkeys, however, one looks like a Spanish black turkey, a heritage breed. Jill at the hatchery said the light colored ones are a variation of the bronze. Let me know if you would like to reserve one for Thanksgiving.
I collected 22 turkey eggs over two weeks and kept them in our cool basement until last Wednesday (see my previous post). I put the date on the eggs to keep track of how old they are. After prepping the incubator for a couple days to make sure the temp was right at 99.5 degrees.
The incubator is a Brower Top Hatch T130 that automatically turns the eggs. I have hatched about a dozen clutches over the years and have had pretty good success. I candled the eggs today to check on the progress. All showed signs of blood vessels which is great news for fertility of the birds. However do not count your chicks (or poults) before they hatch.
I will candle them again next week to check the progress.
A wild hen came to visit this afternoon. She chilled with our turkeys for about an hour until I when out to finish chores. First time we had a wild turkey this close.
The turkeys have been laying for about a month. I have been eating the eggs as they come but now it is time to start to collect them for hatching. I am a bit disappointed with the weather so far so I added a germination mat under the hay to keep the eggs above freezing. I have never tried this before so time will tell.
I have had decent success holding the eggs for upwards of 10 days in the basement which is about 50 degrees at the floor. I put the eggs in a carton large end up and angle the carton against the wall. Each day I flip the carton end for end. This process keeps the yolk moving from side to side, supposedly this prevents the yolk from sticking to the side.
I will hold the eggs until I collect 20 or so and then put them into the incubator. More on that to come.
Turkey birds in the back yard
Here are three of my Bourbon Red turkeys last Friday. The hens started laying about 3 weeks ago and I'm now getting two eggs a day from my two hens. I'll start saving the eggs to incubate in a couple weeks when the weather warms up a bit more. Meanwhile the eggs go on my breakfast sandwich. Turkey eggs taste like chicken eggs yet the yolk is much thicker and does not run quite like a chicken egg. They are a bugger to beak though... Harder shells and tougher membranes than chickens.
I'll try to hatch out a few clutches and let the hens raise a clutch. It's been a couple years since I have hatched turkeys. I currently have two toms with the hens but will down size to one soon. Toms interfere with each other while breeding so I will remove one to help increase fertility. I'll routinely update the progress.