Awhile ago, Mark was out mowing at our new place. He saw a turkey hen fly out of some tall grass and yucca plants, but didn’t think much of it. He went over the area with the tractor then turned around and saw that he had ran over the turkey’s nest.
In the nest were 8 eggs. Unfortunately, 4 were cracked. Mark felt bad, but there wasn’t much he could really do. The nest was exposed so he knew the hen wouldn’t come back. More than likely , varmints or coyotes would find them. He shot me a text and I was thrilled. I told him to bring the remaining eggs home so I could attempt to hatch them.
I had no idea what to do. I searched frantically on the Internet and found out that eggs in an incubator should be kept at 99.5 with a humidity level of 50-60%. Well, this information would have been helpful if i had a chicken egg. As I read, I learned that turkey eggs are different. Each breed can respond to a different temperature in an incubator. Or one wild group of turkeys may need a different environment than another group. Even if they were the same breed.
I took a chance anyways and put my 4 eggs in a box of pine. Covered them with a damp rag and turned on the heating lamp. I carefully placed a thermometer by them and watched the mercury stay steady right under 100 degrees.
The next morning, the eggs were at 85. I put a heating pad under the small box and watched the temperature go back up to just under 100. I figured a wild turkey egg isn’t going to maintain the same temperature every minute of the day. The mom would eventually have to leave the nest to find food and water. So the drop in temperature didn’t bother me.
I turned the eggs slightly, 4 times a day and kept the rag wet. After 5 days, I figured it was time to ‘candle’ the eggs. This is when u take a high powered flash light and hold it up to the larger part of the egg. One egg, had not been fertilized. When you held the flashlight up to it, you didn’t see any blood vessels at all. The next two eggs had the ‘ring of death’. When you look at the picture, you can see the distinct blood line.
Finally, the last egg. I was loosing hope, but held the flashlight up to it anyway. Amazingly, you could see the small bird and vessels moving inside! I was thrilled that it had survived 5 days in my homemade incubator!!
Unfortunately, after 5 more days the egg did die. I knew this because it started to smell really bad. The temperature outside raised to above 105 and it was hard to maintain the temperature of 99.5 degrees. From what I read online, I knew it would be hard to keep the egg alive in a homemade incubator. Even in a real incubator, it is hard to hatch turkey eggs compared to chickens. I don’t feel like a failure though. I learned a lot from this experience. Animals are delicate creatures and need their mother’s touch. When a hen sits on her nest, it creatures the perfect environment for the eggs. If this situations comes up again, I may let nature take it’s course. Turning eggs and worrying about the temperature was a lot of work!!