Sunday, 10 July 2011
Sharing the Care -Turkey poults
Six weeks ago we set 2 broodies - an Indian Game (6 eggs) and a Speckled Sussex (7 eggs) on turkey eggs. Each had their own individual pen, side by side in the stable. They were able to jump over the barrier into each others pen if they so wished by neither did. Both stayed on their own nest, meeting only briefly when they left the eggs for a short food break and quick dust bath.
After a month all but one of the eggs hatched and for the first couple of days each hen cared for her own charges. We then began to notice the hens were frequently swapping sides. It seemed as if the Indian Game would take charge of encouraging the poults to eat, whilst the Speckled Sussex brooded the remainder (the turkeys were unable to leave the pen they had hatched in).
After a week of this we decided to remove the barrier so all the birds could run together, but the Indian Game was aggressive to the Speckled Sussex and defensive of all the poults, so we replaced the barrier.
A few days later however, we discovered both hens in the same side sharing 7 poults, leaving the other 5 huddled in a corner on their own. We quickly popped all 5 under one of the hens and removed the barrier. Since then the two hens have shared the care of all 12. They are now two weeks old and seem to be thriving.