Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Turkey Time

It is time to start hatching little turkeys in preparation for Thanksgiving. They will spend 28 days in the incubator, then a few more weeks in a cozy heated brooder room, then out to pasture.

Finding eggs to hatch, to start with, can be like an "Easter egg hunt" a couple of times a day, for several weeks. This is particularly true of the orchard turkeys.
I love that they have so much savannah like space to romp and play and forage, but when it's time to look for eggs, it's a lot of ground to cover! I also have to compete with the crows, who love turkey eggs, and have keener eyes than mine, or at least, a better perspective.
With a regular pencil, each egg gets marked with a code of its origin, this one came from the "barn" turkeys, and the date which it was collected. This helps us keep track of fertility rates.

The eggs go into a regular box cooler as they're collected. You can store them before hatching for up to two weeks, but I prefer to keep them for no more than seven or eight days before we set them in the incubator.

The incubator gets fired up a full 24 hours before setting the eggs. This gives it time to warm up to the correct temperature, and we can make sure the turners are working right, and all systems are go!

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