The incubation period is 28 days in turkey. There are two methods of incubation.
(a) Natural incubation with broody hens: Naturally turkeys are good brooders and the broody hen can hatch 10-15 numbers of eggs. Only clean eggs with good eggshell and shape should be placed for brooding to get 60-80% hatchability and healthy poults.
(b) Artificial Incubation:
In artificial incubation, eggs are hatched with the help of incubators. The temperature and relative humidity in setter and hatcher are as follows:
(Degree C) Relative humidity (%)
Setter 37.5 61-63
Hatcher 37.5 85-90
Egg should be turned at hourly intervals daily. Eggs should be collected frequently to prevent soiling and breakage and also to get better hatchability.
In turkey 0-4 weeks period is called as brooding period. However, in winter brooding period is extended upto 5-6 weeks. As a thumb rule the turkey poults need double hover space as compared to chicken. Brooding day old poults can be done using infra red bulbs or gas brooder and traditional brooding systems.
Points to be noted during brooding:
• The floor space requirement for 0-4 weeks is 1.5 sq.ft. per bird.
• The brooder house should be made ready atleast two days before the arrival of poults.
• The litter material should be spread in a circular manner with a diameter of 2 mtrs.
• Poult guard of atleast 1 feet height must be provided to prevent the poults from
wandering away from source of heat.
• Starting temperature is 950
F followed by weekly reduction of 50
F per week upto 4
weeks of age
• Shallow waterers should be used.
Turkeys are not the best starters in their life and will really need some tender loving care to get them safely through the first four weeks of life. The average mortality rate is 6-10% during this period. Young poults by nature are reluctant to eat and drink in the first few days of life, primarily because of bad eyesight and nervousness. Hence, they have to be force fed.
Starve out problem is one of the major factors for early mortality in poults. So special care has to be taken for supplying feed and water. In force feeding, milk should be fed at the rate of 100ml per liter of water and one boiled egg have to be given at the rate of one per 10 poults up to fifteen days and that will compensate the protein and energy requirements of the poults.
Poults can be attracted to the feed by gentle tapping of the container with the fingers. Colored marbles or pebbles placed in feeders and waterers will also attract poults towards them. Since turkeys are fond of greens, some chopped green leaves should also be added to the feed to improve the feed intake. Also colored egg fillers can be used for the first 2 days as feeders.
The common litter materials used for brooding are wood shavings saw dust, paddy husk, chopped saw etc. The thickness of the litter material should be 2 inch at the beginning and may be increased to 3-4 inch in course of time by gradual addition. The litter should be raked at frequent intervals to prevent caking.