Turkeys: Which Baby Poult Hatches First?



Mama Hen's New Recruits!


As a spin on the age-old question, we pose a new one – Which poult hatches first?  Is it the first egg laid by the mother hen, or the last?

Answer: No one knows!

Another Puzzle

No one understands how the poult can peck his way out of his egg with an ‘egg tooth’ that chips a nearly perfect line around the upper edge of the larger end of the egg.

In fact, that is how one can immediately surmise the outcome of the nest: If the eggs are smashed, a predator got to the eggs before birth. Otherwise, the eggs have clean pecks around the edge, as if the poults were unzipping themselves from their cocoon.

Early Lessons

If you recall high school biology, ‘imprinting’ is the process by which a baby learns to recognize her mother, her voice, her commands.

This bonding takes place in the first 24 hours; sometime before hen and poults leave the nest.  Once born, the nest becomes a liability for the hatchlings and mom.

The hen needs to feed the youngsters and predators abound. For the first couple of weeks, the chicks and mom are ground-bound.

Life of the Average Poult

Although the poult can fly at the end of the first week of life, the hatchling spends all his time preening, feeding, peeping. He relies on ‘dear old mom’ for warmth and security.

Between Day 14 and 20, the poult is able to move to the tree roost with his/her mom. The determining factor seems to be the weather; if the weather’s too cool,  the poults would rather stay snuggled up to Mom – on the ground.

The constant stream of  chatter is actually school-time for the youngsters. By the time they can roost in trees, they have developed quite a vocabulary.

They have also started to find their place in the family’s pecking order. Interestingly enough, the pecking order can change over time.

“Feed Me! I’m Yours!”

Poults need high protein meals at first: Bugs and grasshoppers. The wider the chicks range for food, the more likely he is to be attacked by hawks, and other predators. Generally, being in open, exposed areas makes attack more likely. As months pass, turkey chicks learn to thrive in their habitat.

By the first leaves of fall, the poults have merged into young turks. Their diet has changed from bugs and leaves to acorns and other foods on the forest floor.

However, they may find themselves in the cross-hairs of a hunter’s gun, if they learn to raid corn from his deer feeders.


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 10:43 am  Comments Off on Turkeys: Which Baby Poult Hatches First?  
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