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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Return of the Turkeys, Part 2

Cherie Langlois
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

After 5 days of tipping, the poults just stopped
Photo by Cherie Langlois
Well, the mystery of the flipping poults remains largely unsolved, although I did find an interesting study here, where the authors noted that “early poult flip-overs” occur in commercial turkey production and happen more often in an experimental line of turkeys selected for increased egg production. 

A paper by Richard J. Julian  reviewing metabolic poultry diseases in The Veterinary Journal (2005) also mentions an increasing frequency of “tip-over” in turkey poults, and that the incidence seems to be higher in poults from younger breeding flocks.

The authors of the flip-over study pointed out that affected poults either die or outgrow the problem by about five days of age. 

Sure enough, on the sixth day our Bourbon Red poult who nearly died stopped flipping over, almost as if the behavior had been turned off with a switch.  I cautiously reunited him (or her) with his friends, and, after a rocky reunion where one of the Royal Palm poults grabbed him by the beak and tossed him Judo-style, he started acting like a healthy baby turkey again—and I started to relax a bit. 

Until a day or so later, when the three Bourbon Reds apparently decided I needed a crash-course in how to clean pasty vents—that is, little turkey tushes covered with dried diarrhea (which can keep them from eliminating, and potentially kill them). 

Note: Cleaning pasty vents is not fun, and I’m sure the poults would agree with me here.  Multiple cleaning sessions with a soft washcloth and warm water finally did the trick, and a Google search led me to try spiking their drinking water with a bit of apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and probiotic powder.  I also switched them from unmedicated organic turkey starter back to medicated turkey starter, just in case coccidia were the culprits here.

As I write this, the turkey trots have stopped (thank goodness), and our five poults are perky, peeping, and excitedly awaiting their “salad of the day”—snipped grass, dandelion leaves, kale, and/or leaf lettuce.  

With baby wing feathers sprouting at lightning speed, they’re also launching themselves ever higher into the air in super-turkey attempts to reach the top of the brooder. 

Looks like finding the brooder box lid is next on my turkey agenda.

~ Cherie

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Return of the Turkeys, Part 2

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Reader Comments
All this is making me think that I may consider NOT including turkeys on my farm.
christine, st augustine, FL
Posted: 6/2/2010 2:48:20 AM
interesting
Heidi, Orlando, FL
Posted: 5/30/2010 8:35:28 PM
I am Glad to hear that everything ended up well!
Jared, Levelland, TX
Posted: 5/30/2010 7:37:36 AM
Glad to hear flipper #2 made it :) Amazing how quickly they learn to fly isn't it? I put a roost in my brooder and the turkeys were using it at two weeks old...now they are free-ranging and 7 weeks old I saw one fly onto my barn roof! It did look a bit surprised at how high it had gone - but flew back down a short while later...
Cathy, Thompsons Station, TN
Posted: 5/28/2010 12:08:24 PM
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