In my introduction blog, I introduced our farm as a “turkey breeder farm” and mentioned that I would write more about it later. Here we are a few months down the road, so I thought it was about time I explain what goes on … on the farm!
We are all about turkey eggs!
Our hens will start to lay eggs when they are about 30 weeks of age (7.5 to 8 months old) and will stay in a laying cycle for about 28 weeks (7 months). During a hen’s cycle on our farm, she will lay about 100 eggs.
Our hens are housed in a barn protected from our harsh Minnesota winters and hot summers, protected from neighboring predators such as coyotes, and are given a safe environment to lay their eggs. Our hens are not kept in cages (in fact, cages are not common practice in raising turkeys) – they roam freely and can enter and exit a nest on their own free will to lay their egg.
Most hens will lay their eggs in a nest (like the photo above); however there are some hens that lay their eggs on the floor.
The nests are all on a master timer. The timer is set to go off on the hour for ten hours a day – in essence, the eggs are collected ten times a day from the nests. How does this happen? The back of the nest moves forward, gently pushing the hen out of the nest.
When it moves back to place, it gently pushes the egg onto a conveyor belt as you can see in this video:
The conveyor belt carries the egg to the front of the barn to a table:
Here, we are able to collect the eggs:
Because the hens lay their eggs in a nest, the eggs are laid in a clean environment (keeping in mind, we routinely clean the nests and tables).
Remember the eggs that are laid on the floor? Those are also collected every hour by walking through the entire barn. This is also a time where we are checking the general health of our hens and making sure they have fresh water and feed.
After the eggs are collected from the tables and the floor, they are washed in our egg washer. The egg washer is similar to a car wash – the eggs move through the washer on a belt.
After they are washed, they are stored in our egg room. The egg room is kept at 57-60 degrees Fahrenheit with low humidity. In this environment, the eggs are kept in a dormant state until the egg truck arrives to take our eggs to a hatchery. The egg truck comes to our farm twice a week.
We sell our fertilized eggs to a hatchery. Once they arrive at the hatchery, the eggs are placed in an incubator where they will stay for 28 days until they hatch – that’s how long it takes! Turkey farmers (like my fellow bloggers Lynette and Pete) purchase baby turkeys (poults) that are one day old from the hatchery to raise on their farms to produce wholesome turkey for families like yours.
You may be asking yourself if turkeys lay eggs, then why don’t I see them in a grocery store. Turkey eggs have a higher value (compared to chicken eggs), thus are not sold in grocery stores. Turkeys are not as prolific and efficient when it comes to laying eggs as compared to the chicken that has been domesticated for thousands of years.
Until next time – thanks for reading!