What to Do With an Egg-Bound Turkey Hen...A Real Life Learning Tale
This year we decided to experiment with raising turkeys. We got the turkeys bred specifically for meat. They grow fast, eat a lot, have AMAZING personalities, are lovable, and ---well, can you tell I have become attached?
We were so excited when our hens (not so little anymore) began to lay eggs! One of them in particular, began to give us an egg about every other day. Then---the eggs just stopped coming. We didn't think much of it, because we are new to turkeys, and I had returned to the classroom to teach for the school year a couple of weeks ago---in other words, I am SUPER busy right now.
So when my husband and I visited our flock (like we do at least once a day and usually more often) to feed and gather eggs this Saturday evening, we noticed that little Mama was not looking very well. She was panting, and her vent was very swollen. There was mucous, blood, and possibly yolk dripping from it. Some of the chickens had even helped themselves, which was pretty gross. I ended up cleaning blood off the faces of a couple of them. (Chickens can be pretty merciless, the little cannibals.)
Not having experienced or even heard of the phenomenon of "egg-bound hen," I sure learned fast. I googled her symptoms, and this is what we discovered was the problem. I wish I had known sooner, and had known what to look for. The thing is, except for not laying eggs on schedule, she had been acting ok up to that day. This was the first we had seen her acting strangely---very very sick actually.
What did we do? Well, we debated about trying some of the remedies, which include things like warm water bath soaks, abdominal massage, putting on a latex glove with some olive oil and trying to remove the egg...etc. Honestly, she was just too far gone at that point. We decided to harvest her.
My husband handles this aspect of our homesteading life. I still cannot bring myself even to watch. I know it's necessary and it's what the animals are for, but I have to admit I do still have trouble with it sometimes. My dad was a hunter, and so is my husband. I understand that animals serve a purpose on this earth to feed us. I also believe that this should be done with care and humanity, which we do.
Enough of that, though. So you really can understand how badly she was doing (she would probably have died that night, and we would have been picking up a dead hen in the morning that had suffered greatly), here is a bit of what my husband found when he dressed her. There were several backed up eggs of various sizes from large to smaller and smaller. In addition, there was one very rock-hard mass right at the opening of her vent. There is no way she could have passed it. It was probably a combination of two or more undeveloped eggs together. I am just glad that she didn't have to suffer any more than she had already.
What I'm also really sad about is that I was really hoping to keep her as a layer. Plus, like I said, I had gotten quite attached to her. She would even walk into our bedroom if I left the door to the yard open. Little Mama was a real sweetie.
My husband and I have a couple of rules about our animals, here on our small property, though, and you should know them if you continue to read our posts:
Kind Animals Only
1) They must be nice---we don't tolerate any mean animals. It's not worth the stress to us and to the other creatures.
All on the Property Must Serve a Purpose
2) They must serve some kind of purpose besides being simple pets. We just don't have the finances or the time to keep little fluffy animals without them being productive here. That may sound harsh, but it is a rule we developed after dealing with a couple of different issues over the past 3 years. Little Mama was meant to be a meat bird, just as the other turkeys are.
I was just hoping that her laying would pan out for all of us, and we could keep her long term. This was unlikely anyway, and this just hastened the end---plus we learned a valuable lesson about what "egg-bound" is and means---plus what to do if you can catch it early enough.
Little Mama ended up living a short but wonderful life. She was happy, loved, and healthy. When she ended up with the condition of being egg-bound, it was just her time. We loved her, and she served her God given purpose on our little homestead.
Am I sad? Absolutely, I am. But I also truly believe in raising animals right, treating them well, and allowing them to do their job. I whole-heartedly believe that people have become so far-removed from their food supply that there is absolutely no empathy across the general public for humane treatment of animals. Hence---the success of the disgusting, inhumane, filthy factory farms. I feel no guilt at all when I compare our animals' wonderful lives here to what those poor factory farm abused animals must endure.
People may think we are "cruel," but truly, I believe we are the ones with humanity and love for the gifts that God has given us, and our animals, though loved well by us, are serving their purpose. They live a beautiful life, free ranging with our other animals, and this is how it should be.
Below are some documentaries that may help you understand our point of view. They were instrumental in our growth and journey into our small homesteading life. These are affiliate links, so if you happen to click through and make any kind of purchase we will make a small commission---and it will not cost you anything. Thank you for your support!
Hugs & Self-Reliance---and to a Peaceful Happy Life!
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**I tried to find the documentary, "Frankensteer," which is what really made my husband and I turn away from factory farmed meat, poultry, and fish. We now shop at Whole Foods, when we need to buy meat from a place other than the ranch in the next state---so we are ensured of clean meat. IMHO----I suspect the "powers that be" and all their money and political influence, had it taken off the market. Maybe I'm wrong,----but I doubt it.
Nourishing Traditions is actually a wonderful cookbook/history on traditional methods of cooking foods. It has a wealth of information--mostly in informative sidebars you can choose to read, or not. The recipes are great. Everything I have tried in this book (and I have tried a LOT) has turned out wonderfully.