|My white turkey, Lilly, overstayed her brooding by 6 days|
Turkeys have an incubation period of 28 days. At the start of the period, the hen takes time off the eggs about twice daily using 30 mins or more to explore and feed. However from the 7th day upwards, the broodiness become intense and the hen reduces the number of times it takes time off. In the last week of the brooding period, the hen further reduces the amount of time it stay off the eggs. Mostly the hen limits that to just 5 mins or below!
When the eggs finally start hatching on the 28th day, the hen totally abandons any form of leave and permanently stay on the eggs 24 hours. It is a crucial period because the eggs need the right temperature to hatch. The mother's brooding temperature is just what the poults need to emerge. After each egg's hatch, the mother provides the protection from the outside weather which would have rather killed it. Normally the last viable egg should hatch after 3 days from the hatch of the first egg. The body of the hen can survive three days on the egg without a break.
IT CAN TAKE LONGER!
For some reasons however, the hen may stay on the eggs for more days. At the intense brooding start, the hen virtually starves. It stays on the eggs the whole day. That means no water and regular food. It may eat some insects around the nest but the diet will be limited to just that! It is very important to take action if the intense period travels past the third day. Leaving the hen on the eggs after the third day without food and water may end in tragedy.
The ideal situation is to remove all the unhatched eggs and just move the mother and poults from the brooding area. Any attempt to feed the hen while in the intense brooding period will yield the same result because the mother will get the appetite back and abandon any unhatched egg.
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