Approved activities Category
Collection of samples from livestock:
27. Artificial insemination 5
28. Semen collection 5

Semen collection and artificial insemination in poultry requires skill and experience. If the teacher or farm assistant wishes to demonstrate the collection of semen and/or artificial insemination to students, they must first seek approval from the SACEC to demonstrate these category five activities. This approval is conditional upon the operator being able to demonstrate appropriate qualifications and experience. Application is made by completion of Application form 4 and submission to the Schools Animal Welfare Officer.

Hand raising poults

Although turkeys have the natural ability to become broody, hatch their eggs and raise their young, it is common practice to take the fertilised eggs away and hatch them using an incubator, raising the poults by hand. This method ensures much higher success rates and much greater production ability. While this is done for production purposes, some schools also choose to hatch and raise poults by hand to provide students with an opportunity to observe the process and learn to raise and care for a baby animal.

In general, poults can be raised in very similar conditions to chickens and most methods of chicken raising can be applied with the exception of turkeys having larger space requirements and higher protein demands. Detailed information about brooding and rearing chickens is available at Small-scale poultry keeping – brooding and rearing chickens

Turkey eggs take approximately 28 days to hatch. Eggs are placed in an incubator, which keeps the eggs warm and rotates them, as the mother would turn her eggs to ensure warmth all over. The period from hatching until the poults no longer require supplementary heat is called the ‘brooding period’ and usually lasts for 3–6 weeks. Poults need supplementary heat when they first hatch, because they are unable to maintain their body temperatures. Naturally the mother provides this but the heat can be supplied with a heat lamp.

As with all young poultry, temperature is very important factor in the management of poults. Day old poults require 38°C, with the temperature lowered 1o to 2°C every three days, to reach 21°C when the poults reach four to six weeks of age. Ideally the temperature should be measured under a brooder, 10 cm above the ground at the rim of the brooder, using a black bulb thermometer. The poults are the best indicators of temperature. When it is too hot, they will disperse and they will huddle if it is too cold. At four to six weeks of age the preferred temperature range is 20–28°C for poults. Temperatures below 10°C and above 32°C cause stress.

As the poults grow, they develop adult feathers and gain body mass, which acts as insulation and the brooding temperature can be gradually reduced, until supplementary heat is discontinued at about 3–4 weeks. During the brooding period, the poults need warmth, shelter, fresh air, proper food and clean water.

Poults can be put in small pens on a lawn to encourage grazing after 3 days of age however they should not be left outside without shelter and heat over night. After 4 weeks poults should be fed a grower feed containing 24% protein for another 4 weeks, followed by a feed containing 20% protein until fully grown.

Space requirements for poults

Age Space requirement
Poults to 10 days 90cm2/poult
Poults to 6 weeks 90cm2/poult
From 8 weeks of age 0.6m2/poult
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