Hatch Turkey Eggs in an Incubator

If the eggs under your turkey hen(s) aren't hatching well, you can move them into an incubator for better hatching success. Since turkey eggs have different needs from chicken eggs, there are several things you need to know in order to increase your chances of having fluffy little turkeys running around. Find out more after the jump.


  1. Set up your incubator at least 24 hours before you put the eggs in.
  2. Fill the lower channel with water to ensure adequate humidity.
  3. Place two thermometers in the incubator. Make sure they are elevated to half the height of the eggs (usually about 1 inch). You can get disposable plastic cups and cut them to the desired height to act as platforms for the thermometers.
  4. Attach a fabric extension to the bulb of one thermometer and make sure that the other end is in the water channel underneath. This thermometer, called a wet-bulb thermometer, will give you a rough idea of the humidity in the incubator, but only if the fabric is wet.
  5. Make sure the temperature is stable at or around 99 degrees Fahrenheit (~37 degrees Celsius), and the wet-bulb temperature stays between 85 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (~29 and 37.5 degrees Celsius).
  6. Mark the eggs with a regular pencil. Put an "X" on one side and an "O" on the other (when the eggs are laying flat on their sides). This is so that when you turn them, you'll be able to turn them exactly 180 degrees. Do not use a colored pencil, a pen, or a marker - these contain chemicals that will harm the turkey through the shell.
  7. Place the eggs gently in the incubator. Have them all with the same letter facing up. For 25 Days: Turn all the eggs three to five times every 24 hours. This prevents the turkey inside from sticking to the shell.
  8. On the 25th day, stop turning the eggs. This is so the turkey can get into hatching position. In approx three days, on the 28th day, they will hatch. When turkeys hatch out, they may roll over the others' eggs, use the turning marks to keep the same side up.


  • The hatching process takes between 5 and 10 hours.
  • When a turkey starts poking through the shell, do NOT turn the egg. Make sure that the crack the turkey is making is facing up. If you put the crack facing the floor, the turkey may not be able to break through. In the last three days of incubation the turkey will move to get into hatching position. 6-12 hours before they hatch you may even hear them start to peep.
  • After 24 hours have passed, show the turkey its water and food. Dip its beak in the water (but not so that it goes in the nostrils) and watch him drink. Repeat with the feed. Hopefully your turkey will learn and start eating and drinking by itself.
  • The normal incubating period for turkeys is 28 days.
  • The newly hatched turkey will probably be peeping, wobbly, tired and wet. Make sure it stays warm and rests.
  • The first crack will probably show up towards the thicker end of the egg. The turkey often drills his way around the circumference of the egg and pops the end open like a cap.
  • Keep an eye on the water level underneath. If you let it go too low, the incubator will get too dry. The relative humidity during hatching time should be 65% or more to prevent the turkey from drying out inside its cracked shell and dying during hatching.
  • Handle the eggs as little as possible. The less disturbance you create, the more likely the hatching will go smoothly.


  • Resist the urge to help a hatching turkey. This will do more harm than good. Let nature take its course.
  • Always wash your hands (and never touch your face) right before touching the turkey eggs. The oils from your skin can permeate the eggshell and contaminate (i.e. hurt) the turkey inside.
  • Never touch young turkeys after being in contact with chickens. There are diseases that can be passed from chickens to young turkeys (although fully grown turkeys are okay).
  • If you don't turn the eggs properly, your newborn turkey might hatch with a twisted leg that it won't be able to stand up with. In this case, the baby will probably need to be put down.

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