We just got more baby chicks and turkey poults.
They are one day old when we get them and not much bigger than the egg they just hatched out of. We place them into a brooding area that has a heat lamp and no corners.
Chicks tend to pile up for a variety of reasons: cold, scared, too warm … so, by not having corners for them to cram into, it lessens the chances of one or more suffocating on the bottom of the pile.
Because I like to recycle, we have been using old dryer drums as brooders for the first week or so of their life. There are no corners and they can run in circles all they want.
But this only works for smaller numbers of chicks or poults. When we started to get over 100 chicks at a time, we built an octagon-shaped brooder out of plywood.
Because we don’t get more than 50 turkeys a year, we still use dryer drums for them. They are also more prone to dying by piling up on top of each other, or from temperature fluctuations or just taking a nap in the drinker.
Turkey poults are not the easiest of livestock to care for.
The need their brooder kept at a constant warm temperature. They also need to be very dry (any amount of moisture will lower their body temperature and they will die).
Three days after we got our turkey poults, this year, their waterer sprung a leak. Of course this only happens during the night. So when I went in to feed them, in the morning, I found an entire brooder full of poults completely soaked.
There is nothing more pathetic looking than a soaked turkey poult. They don’t seem to have any substance without their normal yellow fluff covering them.
There were three poults that seemed to be dead already and the others that were still moving around were in distress. I knew that time was of the essence so I ran back to the house to get some hair dryers.
First, we needed to dry them off, and then we needed to completely re-make their brooder with dry bedding. Placing the turkeys into a temporary brooder, we started to use the hair dryers to gently dry the poults, trying to focus on the three that seemed to be dead, but apparently weren’t.
We also had to be careful not to overheat them with the hair dryers and kill them that way.
The three revived and soon we couldn’t tell them from the others in the brooder. Once they were dry and their new brooder was set up, we again placed them under the heat lamp and gave them some sugar water to help them deal with the stress.
Now all we could do was wait and see if they would survive. By the end of the day we hadn’t lost any, and for that I am thankful. Because of the warmer days this summer, our turkeys weren’t as stressed as they might have been in a cooler year.