Brooding poults is the most sensitive and critical part of raising turkeys. Young turkeys are very fragile and could die very easily if subjected to cold and other elements. Caring for them requires hours of dedicated time, utmost cleanliness in their quarters, and carefulness in handling them.
Whether you’re hatching fertile turkey eggs or getting hatched poults from a feed store or hatchery, you need to provide them with a home. Make sure that you have a brooder pen ready and set when the turkey poults arrive. It must be clean, well-lighted and, most important of all, warm. A good supply of appropriate turkey starter feeds also has to be at hand so you can start feeding the poults once they are in. The brooder floor must be covered with either wood shavings or straw. In brooding poults, never use sawdust since the poults might mistake them as food.
Poults often eat the materials used to line their pens so it is a good idea to cover the wood shavings and straw with either a fabric or burlap for the initial few days. In this way, the poults learn to only eat the feed given to them. This will help them distinguish food from litter later on. A good lamp should also be hung over the poults. The ideal height of the lamp should be about twelve inches from the floor of the brooder pen.
Newborn poults don’t know how to eat nor drink so its necessary to teach them so. You can do this by dipping their beaks into the water and allowing them to raise and tilt their heads to swallow.
The lamp is a necessity when it comes to brooding poults. Normally, the lamp is raised each week to slowly reduce the temperature in the brooder. It is thus important to always keep a thermometer to monitor the heat within the brooder and adjust the lamp if necessary.
As the poults grow, make it a point to raise their water dishes and feeders higher off the floor of the brooder to prevent the poults from walking and defecating over them. Brooding poults require detailed attention to the eating and drinking habits of the chicks. Fresh and lukewarm water is the best for young turkeys. They should also be fed with feed that contains a protein level of 25% to 30% percent.