Turkey Egg Production For Beginners
 

Turkey Egg Production For Beginners


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Turkey Egg Production For Beginners

The number of eggs per hen produced in a season depends on the breeding as well as on climatic conditions and management, includ- ing the use of artificial light. Without artifi- cial light in the northern tier of States, well- matured young turkey hens of the better laying strains should average about 40 eggs to June 1, and hens in their second laying season about 30 eggs, provided broodiness is dis- couraged promptly. In the middle States, these well-matured young turkey hens should lay about 50 eggs to June 1, and in the southern tier of States, about 60 eggs. With adequate artificial light starting December 1, these hens should average about 100 eggs to the following June 1, or 160 to October 1. The poorer laying strains usually average only about 75 percent as many eggs as the better strains. Young hens come into 40-percent production 20 to 30 days (average 25) after stimulatory light- ing starts.

The number of eggs per hen produced in a season depends on the breeding as well as on climatic conditions and management, includ- ing the use of artificial light. Without artifi- cial light in the northern tier of States, well- matured young turkey hens of the better laying strains should average about 40 eggs to June 1, and hens in their second laying season about 30 eggs, provided broodiness is dis- couraged promptly. In the middle States, these well-matured young turkey hens should lay about 50 eggs to June 1, and in the southern tier of States, about 60 eggs. With adequate artificial light starting December 1, these hens should average about 100 eggs to the following June 1, or 160 to October 1. The poorer laying strains usually average only about 75 percent as many eggs as the better strains. Young hens come into 40-percent production 20 to 30 days (average 25) after stimulatory light- ing starts. The Midget Whites, Beltsville Whites and Bronze birds are good for egg production.

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Egg Characteristics

Except after a long laying period, typical tur- key eggs vary in general overall color from light to medium dark brown and are well sprinkled with medium- to dark-brown spots superimposed on a light, yellowish-brown (ec- ru) ground color. The shell normally is strong, with the shell membranes very tough and the yolk quite firm but enclosed by a weak vitelline membrane. In shape the eggs are noticeably pointed at one end. As the egg-laying season progresses and production is heavy, shell texture may deterio- rate and the shell usually becomes lighter, sometimes almost white, with inconspicuous spotting or none at all. Although these changes usually can be considered normal, the occur- rence of many light-colored, thin shells suggests disease involvement. In this case an in- vestigation is in order and the abnormal eggs should not be used for hatching.

Turkey Egg Production For Beginners

Normal turkey eggs not needed for hatching can be used as human food for they are as palatable and nutritious as chicken eggs. They sometimes are broken and the contents frozen. First-year eggs of the large broad-breasted bronze or white varieties weigh about 38 ounces per dozen, or 3.167 ounces (90 grams) each; those of the medium-size standard varieties, 36 ounces per dozen, or 3 ounces (85 grams) each; and those of the standard Beltsville Small White, about 32 ounces per dozen, or 2.667 ounces (75.6 grams) each. Yearling hens lay eggs averaging about 7 percent heavier than those of the same hens in the first laying sea- son. Lumpy shells are not uncommon and if the shell itself is not weak or thin, the lumps do not affect hatchability. If young hens are well matured, 34 to 35 weeks or older when laying starts, their first eggs are almost as large as they will be at any time during their first laying season. However, if brought into production while physically immature, turkey hens lay only a few small eggs, which increase in size quite slowly and never become normal in size.

Egg Gathering and Storage

Turkey hatching eggs should be gathered three times daily. Sometimes more frequent gathering is essential to avoid breakage, dirty- ing, and freezing. After the eggs are gathered, they should be held at room temperature, 75° to 85° F. (24° to 29° C), for about 24 hours or at least overnight, then stored at 55° to 60° F. (13° to 16° C.) until they are set. At 28° F. (-2.2° C.) eggs begin to freeze, and then are useless for hatching. During storage, eggs can be cased with large ends up or trayed ly- ing on their sides.

Egg cases may be stood partly on end, sloped at a 45° angle. Reversing the cases end for end once or twice daily dur- ing storage turns the eggs.

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This turning is advisable if eggs are to be stored longer than 1 week. Relative humidity of the air in the storage facility is not too important but ex- tremes under 40- and over 80-percent relative humidity should be avoided. Ventilation is needed in the egg-holding quarters if mold growth is seen on the eggs. Turkey hatching eggs should not be held over 1 week, but if storage conditions are favorable and the eggs are turned daily, hatch- ability will be retained quite well for 2 weeks and fairly well for as long as 3 weeks.

Dirty eggs usually show lowered hatcha- bility and may transmit disease. To keep eggs clean, use well-designed and well-placed nests, preferably with tip-up fronts, and clean litter; gather eggs frequently ; and keep turkeys out of mud. Eggs badly soiled should be discarded. Eggs moderately or lightly soiled can be ma- chine washed or hand washed by soaking in tvarm water, 105° F. (40.5° C), for about 10 minutes, sponging off the dirt, rinsing the eggs in clean water, and allowing them to dry without rubbing.

The warm water should con- tain about 200 parts per million of an accept- able quarternary ammonium disinfectant. Fumigating clean or cleaned eggs with formal- dehyde gas* is the best method of sanitizing eggs where this is required for disease control. Cracked eggs, if clean, sometimes can be hatched if the cracked place is covered with collodion or a proprietary preparation contain- ing it. However, the danger of infection is great so it is inadvisable to incubate cracked eggs.

More Guidelines Visit: How To Raise Turkeys

 

Resources:

- Heifer

- World Animal Protection

 

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