More About the Life & Times of a Turkey Poult

This is a continuation of yesterday’s article on turkey poults:  The Life of a Turkey Poult.  It covered:  nest-building, breeding, incubation and birthing.

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The First Weeks of Life

The first 2 weeks, the poults stay close to mom’s side — for warmth and food.  They spend these

Turkey Poults Grow Rapidly; They Weigh 6 - 8 lbs. by the Time They are 1 year.

weeks on the ground, although the poults can fly by the end of their first week of life!

They are constantly learning at this time; they spend their days: feeding, sleeping, dusting, preening and peeping. By the end of the third week, the poults are able to roost in trees with their mother.

Cold weather can delay the process of moving to the trees.  By the time they roost in trees, they have  a large vocabulary.

A Poult’s Diet Changes 

In the early days, poults need a steady diet of protein:  beetles, grasshoppers and other insects.  However, as they are out looking for these in the open, they become food for hawks and other predators. Thus, they have to balance their hunger with their fear of being eaten!

During the spring and summer months, poults spend most of their time feeding – to fuel the rapid growth of their bodies.  Besides insects, they eat grasses, leaves, plants, berries and agricultural crops.

Because we make scratching noises when we are calling turkeys, we assume they only eat things below them.  However, they also stretch to nab berries overhead and even jump to snatch a morsel from a low-hanging branch.

These birds use their scratching skills year-round, but especially in the fall and winter months.

As the months roll into autumn, the numbers of insects and vegetation sources decreases, leaving the poults to start feeding on acorns and other mast.*

As the poults grow into jakes and jennies, their diet changes from almost all insects to:  10% insects and 90% vegetation.

The Pecking Order

Over the course of their lives, their rank in the pecking order of their flock may change.

At the end of their first year, the jakes leave their mothers and follow the older males or form new flocks of young jakes. Jennies will stay with their mothers, learning skills they will need as hens.

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For more info:  How to Use the Life Cycle of the Turkey to Your Advantage!

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* mast = ‘nuts of forest trees used as feed….” taken from the Free Online Dictionary

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

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Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm  Comments Off on More About the Life & Times of a Turkey Poult  
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The Life of a Turkey Poult (Chick)

Nature is amazing; the birth and growth of turkey poults prove my point.

Breeding

Weeks before breeding, turkey hens find a protected place (on the ground) for their eggs.

I know, I know! This is a chick, not a poult! This calls for a little vision here!

After breeding, hens lay their eggs in that prepared nest.  They usually lay one/day for a total of about 12 eggs (these are averages; there’s no hard rule).

The hens will feed before and after laying their eggs.  If not sitting on the nest, she roosts nearby.  If predators destroy the nest while she is feeding, the hen will breed again and lay her eggs in a new nesting area.

She occasionally turns the eggs and clucks to her eggs.

Incubation and Birthing

The incubation period is between 26 and 28 days and the hen stays on the nest. Two or 3 days before birth, the poult eggs start making noises.  Mother hen clucks to them regularly.

The poult uses an egg tooth to start the egg opening process.  He cracks the shell in a fairly even line around the larger end of the egg.  This is hard work for the poult and he may take rest breaks before breaking free of the egg.  His labors can take about 18 hours.

You can tell the difference between a naturally hatched clutch and a destroyed nest by observing the eggs.  The neat chipping of the shell is very different from the ravaging mess predators make.

New Poults

Within 24 hours of the end of the poult hatchings, they leave the nest for 2 reasons:  they are hungry and they want to avoid predators.

Remember imprinting from high school biology? This is the process of social bonding that takes place now, so the poult recognizes his mother’s unique sounds and pitch.

Even if they mix with a variety of other turkey families, when Mother calls, her poults follow.

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Next Time:  More Wild Times With Poults!

They Sing, They Dance, They Talk!  😉  (Oops, I got a little carried away!)

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

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Published in: on May 9, 2011 at 12:02 am  Comments Off on The Life of a Turkey Poult (Chick)  
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