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.
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