Two weeks ago, my daughter and I had a very exciting day!
Our little turkey poults arrived on a Wednesday to our local post office here in Alabama. The poults traveled all the way from Hoover’s Hatchery in Iowa!
Being prepared for the arrival of your poults takes all the stress out of the day. Being shipped across the country can take a toll on their little bodies. Have your brooder set up, with clean shavings, a red heat lamp, fresh water, and good quality feed. Your little poults will appreciate this and quickly settle into their new home.
One of the most important things you can do for your poults, is give them a high quality feed. I learned this the hard way. Turkeys require a higher protein than chicks. They require at least 28% protein, and will not develop properly is simply fed chick starter. (Chick starter contains around 18% protein).
Without the right protein, poults can start to develop leg deformities and heart issues.
Our 3 amigo poults are lucky enough to get Nature Serve, Gamebird Starter for their sole feed ration. This is my first time ever using Nature Serve, and I am super impressed with how well my baby turkeys are doing!
During the first 2 weeks of life, you can expect each turkey poult to eat about 1.5 pounds of feed.
As soon as you pull your sweet poults from the box, it is imperative to show them the food and water! They need a little more attention that chicks, and need you to be their teacher on the first day.
For water, gently pick up each poult and dip the very end of its beak into the water. (Do not get their nostrils wet.) After dipping, hold the poult upright and you will see it take a little swallow of water. Repeat 3 or 4 more times for each poult. After they see each other drinking, they usually have it figured out.
A similar procedure works for showing them the food. A couple of shallow pans or container lids work best for turkey feed. They can see it better, and won’t get their little heads stuck in any feeder holes. Simply tap your finger on the feed. This will get their attention and make them curious about pecking the feed. They’ll be eating in no time!
One of the most notable things that separate turkey poults from chicks is their curiosity. They are extremely curious about their world from the second they hatch from the egg. They will walk right up to you, ring you with hose big brown eyes. Turkey pouts will not necessarily imprint like waterfowl, but they are very easy to tame compared with chicks.
Although fragile and high maintenance at first, after the first few weeks, turkey poults grow hardier with each passing day!
Curbing their curiosity can help keep your poults happy and out of trouble. Here are a few things to improve their quality of life:
Turkey Tip #1: Provide enrichment.
Turkeys can easily get bored. Bored poults can start pecking each other. It may start innocently with pulling each other’s feathers, but this picking can quickly weaken the victim. By giving them things to peck and and look at in the brooder box, they can keep their little minds healthy and busy.
I like to pluck clumps of grass and clover for them. They especially enjoy it if you can get the whole clump of grass, including the dirt underneath it creates a little jungle island for them to play on and explore. (Just be sure not to pick grass in an area where chickens frequent, to avoid cross worm contamination).
Turkey Tip #2: Give them something to look at.
Another way to add enrichment is by giving them something to look at. We discovered this by accident one day when my daughter wanted to tape a picture she drew for them to the brooder wall. They immediately walked up to it and stared, pecked, and just seemed enthralled by the colorful scribbles.
Turkey Tip #3: Offer a perch.
One last and easy way to add enrichment is by giving them a perch. I medium sized stick, low to the ground, works great! It will help them grow their muscles and keep their minds occupied.
Turkey poults are one of the most adorable and loving creatures on a farm! They genuinely seem to enjoy being around their owners. Use these tips and feed a good quality feed, like Nature Serve. You’ll see your turkeys through the fragile first few weeks, and you’ll have friends that will live for years and years!
We love our little babies from Hoover’s! Check back in 2 weeks to see how the 3 amigos have grown!