Did you know that Benjamin Franklin loved turkeys, and preferred them to bald eagles, any day? That’s not all. In a letter the statesman, scientist and writer wrote to his daughter, he acknowledged that the bald eagles have bad morals.
Why? That was because bald eagles have a reputation for stealing from other birds. Benjamin acknowledged the turkey as a bird of good morals, courage, and one that represents a true Native American.
So, now you know what inspired Benjamin to place turkeys above bald eagles, even though the latter is much more powerless. Additionally, turkeys’ presidential pardon began in 1989, following Abraham Lincoln son’s plea for the bird intended for Christmas to be spared.
Now, here’s one fascinating question, followed by information about turkeys.
What are baby turkeys called?
Baby Turkeys are either called poults, turkeylings, or chicks. Poults or turkeyling refer to the babies of domesticated turkeys. While chicks, which are the commonly used term for baby turkeys, actually refers to the babies of wild turkeys.
Do you care to learn more about turkeys? Keep reading.
How Are Baby Turkeys Born?
The hen (female turkey) lays at least an egg every day for two weeks, in its nest. It lays a total of 10-12 eggs at the end of the two weeks. On average, the eggs undergo a 26-28 days incubation period, and hatching usually happens within 24-36 hours in May and June.
The incubation process starts once the hen lays the last egg, and during this process, the hen only leaves the eggs for a short time to feed. The hen’s primary focus for the 26-28 day period is her eggs. So, aside from moving to find food, the hen changes her position almost every hour to properly position the eggs.
The incubation and hatching process is almost similar for both domestic and wild turkeys. The difference is that wild turkeys may lay more eggs within the two weeks and have additional incubation days.
How Do Baby Turkeys Behave At The Early Stages Of Their Life?
As delicate as they are at the early stages of their life, poults develop fast but may require extreme care. In the first few hours of a poult’s introduction to the world, it can copy its mother’s eating style by pecking at food particles.
A one-day-old turkey learns to respond to its mother’s call. The hen makes an alarm call or putts, every time she wants to leave the nest, and the one-day-old turkey responds by making haste to hide under the hen.
On their second day, poults can fly even though this is for a short distance. It is more than we can say for the domestic hen or any adult domestic turkey. On their second day, the poults start exhibiting some of the expected behavioral patterns; feeding and moving, etc.
Within one and two weeks, baby turkeys start dusting with their mothers regularly, and they start to fly more distances than they did in the first few days.
Significant dietary changes come in the turkey’s third week because they start to roost on trees. This roosting on trees leads to a change in their diets and feeding habits. They begin to eat more plant matter than anything else.
It is essential for anyone raising baby turkeys to know that the first six weeks are the most crucial. If the poult can survive the first six weeks, it means they have an increased chance of survival.
From their fourteenth week, it is easier to distinguish between the male and female poults. By fall, the young turkeys are fit and prepared to socialize, so they enter the environment. By spring, the juvenile body growth ends.
How Long Do Baby Turkeys Stay With The Hen
They stay with their mothers for several weeks (8 weeks, at least) after birth for warmth. Baby turkeys don’t have feathers at the early stage of their development. Their feather development takes weeks, so they need to get heat from feathers, and their mother is the best option.
They can start staying without their mothers from their eighth week, and they can also spend time outside. If the weather is cold, you can postpone their staying out to a hotter day.
Is It Hard To Raise A Baby Turkey?
It is easier to raise chickens than turkeys. Turkeys pose more challenges because they are sensitive, and any form of mismanagement wouldn’t end well for the poult.
You must make sure their diets, sanitation, heat, and overall management are adequately taken care of to make them live through the first few weeks of their lives.
Also, you can’t have just one baby turkey. Turkeys grow, thrive, and live with their flock. You can raise your baby turkey with chickens if not other turkeys. Although, you must ensure that the chickens are clean to prevent them from passing diseases to the baby turkey.
How To Raise A Baby Turkey
It isn’t challenging to raise baby turkeys, provided you know what you should do. Here are a few steps to help guide you:
Keep them warm:
Baby turkeys (poults) hate being cold. Let’s face it; they are probably too delicate to be left in the cold, anyway. They love heat, so keep them warm. You can start with a high temperature and lower it per week until their feathers develop fully.
You can continue with the warmth using a lamp at night. The good thing about turkeys is that they communicate well. You need to understand what their different reactions indicate.
How they arrange themselves in the brooder can show you if they are comfortable or not. If the poults gather right under the heat source or close to it, they are likely cold. If they move far from the heat source, then they are most likely hot. They are comfortable if they are all over the brooder.
Their vocalizations can also tell you if they are comfortable or not. Cheeping is an indication of illness or cold. When they are quiet, then they find environmental conditions good. Let there be enough space for them to either move away or towards the heat.
Give them Protein:
Poults need protein. They need more proteins than chickens do. For the first week, they need about 28% protein in their meals, and as the weeks pass, you can reduce their protein intake by 10%.
It is alright to resort to specialized bird feeds to meet their protein requirements. You mustn’t feed them layer pellets because it contains a high level of calcium that can harm your poult or any baby bird for that matter.
As they get older, you can start adding little chick grit to their food. The older turkeys get, the more liberties you can take with their feeding, but you should watch what you give to them while they are still young and developing. If you have much time, consider researching before providing them any feed. By doing so, your turkeys would get the right feeding and grow accordingly.
Let them stay clean and dry:
it is common for people to raise poultry in a dirty environment. But, if you want to raise healthy turkeys, you might want to learn to keep the environment clean and dry. Use rice hulls or shavings from pine to make their bedding. Please, avoid using paper or cloth.
Also, you shouldn’t make the mistake of giving your Poults cold water. It is common for people to make several mistakes on their first turkey-raising journey, but giving your poult cold water to drink shouldn’t be one of them. Give them lukewarm water at all times. Add supplements to the water if they lack some nutrients. Change their water regularly and keep their water bowls clean at all times.
Teach them to respond to you:
Turkeys are intelligent birds, and you can work on teaching them little things like coming to you when you call or picking food from your hands when you stretch it out to them, etc. The more attention you give them, the less difficult they are to handle.
Is It Safe For Baby Turkeys Outside?
It is safe, provided they aren’t one week old. You can take poults out from their third week. But consider the weather before you take them outside.
It is alright to expose them to sunlight gradually. This little exposure to sunlight can do a lot for the poult. It can help their budding immune system and bone development.
The gradual exposure to sunlight is also necessary because it helps them learn to adapt to the changes in weather conditions even before they start developing feathers.
Also, within the first six weeks or more, they would start developing feathers, which would be the best time to change their living conditions. You can either move them or upgrade their brooder.
Poults are easy to handle. They are soft and sensitive, but you need to know what to do per time, and you’re good to go—thinking of raising them? You don’t need to fret, they are affable, and you might be in for a unique experience.
Turkeys are also cute creatures, and as Benjamin Franklin puts it; turkeys have better morals and are courageous.