Breeding

Criteria used for choosing parent stock should follow the principle used in other poultry, where fitness characteristics are the most important. These are weight at maturity, egg size/ batch, survivability, fertility and mating ability among others.  Females are sexually mature at 8-10 months and males(stags) at 1 year.  Stag to hen ratio is 1 to 8. It is important to use young males for breeding because of their lower weight and to avoid back tearing of females. Further management intervention includes cutting down the claws of stags and this is mandatory before mating starts. Hens mated will start laying eggs in exactly 10 days.  This means that once mating starts nests should be cleaned and disinfected for use within that required time.  In semi intensive management systems there is a tendency for females to lay eggs in far away corners and even across the fence if the first 6-7 hours confinement “rule” is not adhered to. Therefore it is important to provide them with nests at the dark areas of the house within this critical time. Turkeys normally lay between 7 am and 1pm.   Small breasted turkeys lay between 15 and 30 eggs. Most Turkeys will brood their eggs well but are very careless mothers.