Let’s talk about turkeys…
I was out in the coop the other night tucking the ladies in, and I went over to the nest box to collect the eggs. Well, it was pitch black in the nest box but I reached in anyway because what could be there besides a whole bunch of eggs? The moment my hand stroked something soft I was on my feet and out of that coop faster than you could say “……fast?” (I’m really bad at analogies.)
I ran inside and grabbed a flashlight, cause if there was a wild animal in the coop I wanted to see it before it attacked me. My mom came back out with me for emotional support and I carefully crept up to the nest box… Instead of finding a possum gorging himself on eggs, ready to attack and spread fatal diseases, there was my buff orpington Anne, comfortably nestled in the box, looking up at me with the meanest eye she could muster since I had just disturbed her slumber.
At first I thought she was just sleeping there(she’s been known to do that before), but after almost getting my hand pecked off and getting growled at by a chicken I figured out she had gone broody! I guess I didn’t collect the eggs fast enough during the day and she just decided that they needed to be hatched(even though I don’t have a rooster.).
This sudden development of broodiness would have been a problem if I didn’t have eggs to hatch, but long story short, I ended up with 3 turkey eggs on my hands a couple weeks ago and had started incubating them. After much contemplation and research, I figured that Anne would know how to hatch the turkey eggs a lot better than me and since they were only a little over a week along at the time, it would be safe to move them underneath her.
My mother and I made a game plan to set up a little pen around the nest box so that the other chickens wouldn’t bother Anne while she was trying to brood, and brought a basket and the incubator with the turkey eggs down to the coop. I pulled on my heavy duty leather gloves(Anne was extremely mad at me trying to disturb her eggs) and was able to get 5 eggs out from under her. I gently put the turkey eggs under her and watched in relief as she fluffed her feathers over them and accepted them as her own.
Woo Hoo!! Success!!
(I have much better pics of her that my wonderful sister took, but I will put those in a post all about broody hens and what I’m learning from this experience)
The next morning I went out to the coop to let the girls out and there was Anne, waiting by the door to be let out as well. 1. I have no clue how she got out of the pen that surrounded the nest box. We took it down after that cause it was pointless and she knows how to defend her nest. 2. WHAT WAS SHE DOING OFF THE EGGS?!
I, ah, panicked a little… The eggs would freeze without her sitting on them, right? Mary, listen to reason. It was 75 degrees out at 9:00am. Pretty sure they are not going to freeze today. Fine. But how do I know when I should be worried that she’s not on the nest? Here’s what my research(and experience) uncovered…
Chickens need to eat and drink. Even broody mamas. Some will unintentionally malnourish themselves because they are so focused on their job of brooding. Anne is smart. She picked the best time in the morning when the eggs were perfectly warm from her sitting on them all night, to go outside, stretch her legs, relieve herself(I found out broody’s droppings are, um, quite unpleasant as they only go once a day while brooding…), and eat and drink.
And hour later she was back on the nest box and doing her job of protecting her eggs and keeping them warm. She even knows how much and when to turn them! Nature is amazing. And the God who created it all is a genius. She stayed on her nest the rest of the day and got off the next morning to take care of herself, then it was back to her eggs. I’ve stopped panicking. Now I’m just a worried little mother and I check on her about 5 times a day.
It has been 4 days and she is doing wonderful! I haven’t candled the eggs yet to see if anything is progressing, but the next chance I get when she is off the nest, I’ll have to candle them and take a pic to show ya’ll 🙂 There is also the possibility that nothing is happening inside them cause I had no idea what I was doing when I started incubating them.(I did plenty of research, but you can only really learn from experience) If no baby turkeys end up hatching, it will be disappointing but at least I’ve learned a ton about incubation and broodies!
Talk to you later!
Blow up your TV, move to the country, homestead your life.
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