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Not All Hens are Created Equal

This Turkey Tuesday is about the realization that not all hens are created equal. With toms, we often look at them differently based on body size, spur length, beard length, you name it. But with hens, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking they’re all the same because they look similar. To my eye, these 3 hens look almost like clones of each other – but the reality is, there are some hens that are much more productive in hatching poults than others. Ongoing research across broad areas of the country is showing that nest success, the percentage of nests that hatch each year, is hovering around ~20%. So most nests fail each year. Other research is showing that if a hen fails in her nest attempts this year, she only has an 8% chance of being successful next year. But if she’s successful this year, she has a 63% chance of being successful again next year. The take home is, if you think about it, through time most poults in a population are produced by a fairly small number of the hens in that same population. Some hens are just “better” when it comes to being the engine that drives our turkey populations.

© Tes Randle Jolly

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