04/04/09 You Go Turkey

Our friend Candy raises Heritage turkeys. Last month she gave us some eggs to put in the incubator. Our Hova-Bator incubator has kept them at 98 degrees since March 8. Seven more eggs were given to us a week later, making a total of 10 turkey eggs in incubation. We candled the eggs which showed that 9 out of the 10 eggs were alive and well; one was a blank. Candling is a simple device that shines light though the shell and illuminates chick development or the lack thereof. This morning we heard chirps coming from the box and two had hatched in the middle of the night; one more broke out this afternoon.
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Observing the process is fascinating and nothing short of a miracle, no matter how many times it is witnessed. From the interior of the egg, the chick pecks the circumference along the larger end of the egg; it’s a stop and go process with much energy expended, rest time, and continuation. What developes is a hatch door. Once complete the chick pushes the door open with its feet and wings and wobbles out.
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All of this stuff is imprinted in the chick’s being and it occurs naturally without help or instruction. The chicks will remain in the incubator until they are dry and then they will transfer to the brooder. The brooder is a larger containment with heat lamps, food, and water. These two are making their way to the brooder. Their feet and legs are big and it’s amazing how they fit in the egg.
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The Hova-Bator has a trough for water which creates humidity. If it’s too dry, the egg will not hatch. Additionally, each day the eggs must be turned two or three times to keep the legs from deforming. An O and X mark on the eggs announce which eggs need turning. In nature, the hen turns the eggs as she sits on them with her feet and beak.
Turkey eggs are tougher than chicken eggs. The shells are much harder and the yokes are more difficult to beat. Their taste and texture are extremely rich.