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Importance of Tree Roosting by Broods

This Turkey Tuesday is about the importance of tree roosting by broods. The ability for poults to start roosting above ground is an important development in the life of poults, for reasons that are obvious and some that are not. Poults develop the ability to roost in trees after 2-3 weeks of life, depending on their rate of development and growth. Once they reach that age and can roost in trees, a series of things are ongoing in their lives that positively affect their survival. First, once poults roost in trees they’re obviously safer at night, which improves their survival. Second, at about 3 weeks of age, their diet shifts from mostly insects to mostly plant material, which better helps them meet nutritional demands. Third, poults are rapidly replacing down feathers with juvenile feathers during the period when they begin roosting in trees, which offers them better protection from weather extremes. They will still brood under the hen, but their reliance on her starts to diminish a bit each day as those feathers are replaced. The bottom line is, poults that reach the age where they can roost in trees have a good chance of surviving into the fall. So, if you’re seeing poults in your area the size of those in this picture taken by Marc Hunt, there’s a good chance you’ll see those same birds later down the road in a fall flock nearby.

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