Letter Re: Update on Midget White Turkeys

Dear Mr. Rawles:
A few months ago I sent in an article titled, ‘Midget White Turkey, the Perfect Homestead Bird’.  The article described everything as it was…then.  But we’ve had a few hitches and I thought if people are preparing for serious times, they might want to know some of the problems we’ve also faced (and are facing) raising turkeys, especially since Survivalblog keeps a ‘library’ of all the articles that come in and someone might be using our article as a guide.

After the first successful hatch, we were unable to raise a second one.  Multiple candlings showed most eggs were fertile and began to grow, but then the eggs died.  Changes of nest, weather, which birds were allowed to set, etc., did no good.  Clutch after clutch failed to hatch.  The eggs that were incubated didn’t hatch, either. 

There really isn’t much out there about Midget Whites, but we finally found someone at a hatchery who was able to shed light on our problem.  It seems that turkey eggs only have about a 50% hatch rate even among the experts.  The hatchery lady said we were very lucky on our first hatch.  The key, she said, is to be sure to have clean eggs, even washing them in a solution designed for eggs.  Bacteria is said to be the big culprit in losses, but there are also tight protocols for incubators.  We don’t mind working hard if we get birds out of this!  We’re following the new lead now and hope to have more success.  But we would like your readers to know that if the 50% hatch rate is true, this isn’t the ultimate meat bird we were recommending and hoping for ourselves. 

The breed doesn’t have to be artificially inseminated, is hardy in winter, the birds are calm to work with, and all the rest we said is true.  But without better hatch rates, the feed to meat conversion rate is pretty bad. – L.C.