Turkeys are not the brightest creatures on the earth! As hatchlings, they are not smart enough to figure out how and where to eat and drink on their own. We use baby chickens – placed in with the turkeys to get them on their way – and so the story of the Life of Luther begins.
Last week I posted about how excited we were to have this little experiment join our family. He had a tough time hatching, but seemed to be doing well. We put him into his brooder (a bird nursery) – along with two baby chickens – cell mates if you will. The chicks were very active – and soon had Luther eating and drinking – Yeah!
Things seemed to going quite well – so you can’t imagine my horror when I came to check on the little guy on Wednesday morning – only to find him lying on his back, spread eagle (or should I say turkey), limp, and lifeless. He had obviously been struggling to right himself and had become exhausted. This had happened away from the brooder heat lamp, and so my little fluffy friend had become quite cold. . . never a good thing in the life of a bird.
I was able to warm him up, get some electrolytes and food into him, and he seemed to recover quite well. But how did he end up on his back?
Thursday morning found him in the same state! Again, I repeated the steps of the previous morning – and checking on him regularly throughout the day, he seemed to be just fine.
Friday morning was a different story. I again came in to find him on his back, and so limp and cold that he was barely alive. I was pretty sure that I would not be able to revive him this time. I picked up his limp little body and could tell that he was more dead than alive. I needed to get him warm asap. I quickly tucked him inside my shirt – next to my skin – while I heated some towels (wash cloths – he is a very tiny bird!) in the microwave. As soon as they were heated, I wrapped him in a warm towel, leaving his feet exposed. They were cold as ice – and so, using a trick from days long past, I placed his little popsicle toes into warm water. After drying them off, I placed him into a warm incubator – and the waiting game began. I was not very hopeful that he would make it.. . . only time would tell.
It was about 30 minutes later that I heard a very faint chirping coming from the incubator. I went in to check on him and found him in a semi-upright position, but very weak. I managed to get some electrolytes into him and made a broth from the electrolyte water and some mash. For the next several hours, I gave him a drop of broth every 15 minutes – and put him back into the warm incubator. It was about 2 hours into this routine when I returned to the incubator to find him up and walking. Although he was a little weak, Luther was making a come back. Within a short time, I was able to return him to the brooder with his cell mates.
I watched him for a few minutes to make sure he was ok – and that is when I discovered how Luther was ending up on his back. It seems that one of the chicks is very rambunctious. Her method of movement is a dead run! In her efforts to get to the feeder she plowed into Luther – who is not yet smart enough to get out of the way of a crazed chick – landing him on his back!. . . The mystery was solved. I moved the feeder closer to the brooder lamp – making it impossible for the little speedster to gain the speed necessary to upend Luther on her way to her next feeding. . . . and now – two days later – all is well.
Luther is eating, chirping, moving around like a good little turkey – and chickzilla seems to be behaving herself. We have more turkeys coming along – should have another hatching in a week or so. Luther will have buddies. But for now, he holds a very special place next to my heart.