What Do Turkeys Eat? [Helpful Turkeys Diet & Nutrition Guide]


what do turkeys eat

Do you feel so deeply about feeding birds? If yes, go on, as feeding birds is one of the most profound global activities these days. Millions of people practice this privately as a hobby. But before feeding any bird, concentrate well on your feeder.

Think; Is it good for a bird? Do birds really need it? The sad fact is that nobody actually thinks about it on a big scale!

First, boost your knowledge about the food requirements of birds, then prepare your menu. Suppose, you are willing to feed turkeys in your backyard, what should you do now.

What do turkeys eat? Turkey’s food varies with age, season and other factors. Wild turkeys mostly eat plants, fruits, insects and some reptiles. Domestic turkeys live on mash, crumble pellets, and formula feed. They sometimes behave both as omnivores and scavengers. Baby turkeys need rich protein food and low calcium food. They grit large food particles to facilitate digestion. Feeding wild turkeys can be messy and dangerous.

Turkey is an astonishing fowl bird native to America. It is raised on a commercial level and served widely as Thanksgiving Day’s dinner. Probably, it would be an extensive diet pattern of turkey that makes its meat delicious. Let’s dive deep to know more about turkey’s food.

Feeding Turkeys

Feeding turkeys can be an amazing experience. This bird will not regret eating anything you offer and they don’t scare humans at all. Feeding domestic turkey is easy as compared to wild because they behave aggressively. If you enter turkey’s breeders, with food for them they will gather around you without any hesitation. If you move forward they will start following you. 

They will chip to get food and even try to climb over on another in the greed of getting more and more. Be careful while feeding poults as they are sensitive enough to digest calcium-rich food. Adult turkeys can eat so many things. They behave both as scavengers and omnivores.

Let’s see what you can feed them –

  • Oat, crumble, mash, acorns, hickory nuts, beechnuts, or walnuts, either cracked open or swallowed whole.
  • Nuts like hickory, beechnuts, walnuts even with a cover.
  • Seeds and grain, including spilled birdseed or corn and wheat in agricultural fields
  • Fruit like berries, wild grapes, crabapples, and wild cherries.
  • Crawling animals including lizards and snakes
  • Fleshy outgrowth on plants as buds, roots, bulbs, succulents, and cacti
  • Wild Plant foliage, grass, and newly grown leaves or bars
  • Large toxic insects that are easy to grit like a grasshopper.

Domestic turkeys are fed formula diets throughout their life. If they are bred for meat, they will have access to food as much as they can eat. If turkeys laying eggs and grown, they will be fed accordingly.

How Their Diet Varies

One of the most versatile things about this game bird is that its food varies many times with age and season. Domestic turkey is always fed on corn- and soybean-based blend but with different proportions of nutrients according to age. With age and growth rate vitamins and minerals are added gradually. As the turkeys get older, they   switch from the crumbs to a larger pellet

 Wild turkey mother arranges food for poults up to 3 weeks then they start foraging freely on grass, ground, and pastures. They get all essential nutrients from naturally grown plants, insects and fruits.

How They Eat

Like other birds, turkeys don’t have teeth. They are naturally projected to grit food particles with small stones to grind them. Poults love grit access that helps to digest food. Grit may include small stones, pebbles or crushed rocks. It is available in stores in different sizes in different sizes according to the size of the bird. For poults, always get small stones or coarse sand. Make sure, grit may not contain abundant calcium as it is dangerous for poult kidney and lever. 

If you are buying grit from stores, read the ingredients carefully. Never get grit with oyster eggshells which contain an excess of calcium. The best way is to make grit at home through granite. Crush granite and wash it to remove dust. Don’t throw large pieces away, you can mix these in an adult turkey feeder. The ideal blend contains 25lb grit particles in a 1ton feeder.

What Do Wild Turkeys Eat

Wild turkeys get food from a variety of sources. They keep on shifting from one source to another with seasonal changes. In fall, l they would feed on plants while in spring they like insects and acorns. So, nothing is fixed in Turkey’s menu. Let’s see a table to check which plants, insects, reptiles and fruit can become the diet of turkey.

Here is the Wild Turkey food Table:

PlantsNutsInsectsReptilesFruit
SeedHickory nutsWormSalamanderBerries
BudsBeechnutsCrawling insectsLizardsGrapes
Fresh leavesWalnutsToxic insectsWild cherry
Shrubs like dogwoodCaterpillars

What do turkeys eat on a farm

Turkey’s feed on farms mainly depends on the type of breed, the purpose of raising and the age of the bird. If poultry breeders are raising turkeys to get the meat they would ensure all-time access of food to the animal. If farm owners want egg hatching breeds, they would serve a high protein diet to them.

Turkeys eat different types of food on farms.

  • Medicated food
  • Starter formula
  • Non-Medicated food

Breeders often prefer non medicated food and starter formula which is a powerful blend of oatmeal and soybean. The first three weeks of poults require extreme care as the bird is delicate enough. As they grow up, breeders shift from starter to crumble or mash food. After 3 weeks poults can go outside to forage on grass and clean ground.

What Do Turkeys Eat In The Winter

Domestic turkeys eat the same food in winter as in summer. Mostly mash, crumb, oatmeals and soybean blends. However, breeders serve them warm water to drink as they catch cold more quickly. For this reason, during winter it is essential to avoid serving cold water. Wild turkeys are habitual of seasonal changes. During winter, they live close to bird feeding areas as they are not migrating birds. They eat nuts, acorns, berries, and walnuts even with hard shells. If they don’t find any food from plants, they may forage for insects on the ground. 

What Do Baby Turkeys Eat

Until 8 weeks after birth, baby turkeys need to eat rich protein and low calcium feed. In poultry, poults are fed starter mash or crumbles, a blend specially formulated for their growth and development. Poults should not be fed pellets before 8 weeks after birth as it is calcium-rich food that can damage their kidney as well as a lever. 

Make sure the starting feed should contain 26-28%protein, not more than this. If you want to prepare starter food by yourself blend 50-50ratio of oats and cornmeal to mash or crumb-like consistency and serve this to poults. One of the biggest mistakes that breeders often do is to feed baby turkeys with chicken starter formula. Remember this formula feed does not contain enough protein or vitamins for bone development. 

Always add 2cups of brewer yeast per10Ibs of chicken starter, it will cover protein deficiency. After 8 weeks, the poults are strong enough to eat pellets, mash, crumb or other feed. Poults are very delicate creatures that can easily catch any infection. So, keep them in a clean place. It is good for them to forage on the ground on sunny days to learn to eat.

What Do Domestic Turkeys Eat

Domestic turkeys are raised in a controlled environment. Here they eat fixed food for up to 8 weeks. Some breeders serve them chicken starter plus yeast formula. Most of them raise them on a blend of oat and cornmeal until they are 8 weeks old. Starter food contains 28% protein After 8 weeks adult turkey may switch to a calcium-containing diet like oyster eggshells. Gradually breeders lower the percentage of protein from their diet. To save them from Syria breeders advise warm water. On sunny days they forage on the ground where there are no adult turkeys. Baby turkeys feed is different from that of an adult.

Attracting Wild Turkeys

Do you want to invite turkeys to your backyard? I know Yes. Most of us want to see them closely from the window that opens in the backyard. Let me tell you it is not as safe as it seems to be. Turkeys are healthy eaters and can destroy almost all plants in your garden. They are large enough and can even cause accidents. Sometimes they behave aggressively and can hurt kids. After knowing all these disadvantages of attracting them, if you are still insisting to invite them then we have a solution.

There are plenty of tips that can help out in attracting this game birds like –

  • Offer them food lie corn meals, birdseed, nuts berries, fruit or even whatever you can serve them
  • Arrange nesting area for them by spreading mulch beneath piles or even prepare safe breeders for them
  • Provide them shelter homes to stay overnight with food
  • Make access to water easy for them
  • Increase landscaping with plantation

Preferred Foods of Wild Turkeys

The food preference of wild turkey varies with age and season. Baby poults love to eat seed and grain or whatever mother bird serves them. Adult poults keep on changing food options depending on what is available seasonally. In spring, they would feed on buds, fresh tender leaves, twigs, and grasses. In fall, they would prefer fruit like berries, nuts and flashy parts of plants. They would stay around the feeding area throughout the winter. Farmers don’t like them as they can mess up the acorn field badly. In the winter end, they prefer to get rich energy food to prepare themselves for breeding.

what do turkeys eat on a firm

Wild Turkey Habitat

Wild turkeys prefer to live on woodlands and conifer forests. As they are excellent flyers so they like areas with wide openings like valleys, pasters, areas around mountains or marshes. They are not migrating birds so they choose those areas with abundant plantation and food sources. They have so many predators. That is why they mostly live around trees to hide them when they sense danger. In the Northeastern part of North America, you can find them living along with the forests of Oak trees, beech, cherries, and white ash.

In the coastal areas of southeastern America, they live near plantation, clearing, and swamps. In the Appalachian and Cumberland Plateaus, birds occupy a mixed forest of oaks and pines on southern and western slopes, also hickory with diverse plantations. In Asia, very little is known about the habitat of wild turkeys. Game Bird hunters find them in hot areas.

If you are interested in raising turkeys, read this book.

Frequently Asked Questions (Faqs)

Do Turkeys Eat Bread?

Yes, they do eat bread but not often. It is recommended to serve wet bread not dry.

Do Turkeys Eat Meat?

They behave like a scavenger sometimes and eat red meat on odd occasions.

Do Turkeys Eat Cats?

Turkeys don’t eat alive or dead cats normally.

Is it Bad to Feed Wild Turkeys?

Feeding wild turkey doesn’t help them at all. They are big enough and can cause accidents. They behave aggressively during eating and can hurt.

What Do Wild Turkeys Eat in Michigan?

Wild turkeys of Michigan eat fruit like grapes, berries, and insects.

What Do Turkeys Eat in The Fall?

In the fall they feed on berries, seeds acorns, and insects

What Do Turkeys Eat in The Wild?

In the wild, turkeys eat plants, fruits, and insects.

Final Words

If you are planning to raise turkeys this year then what do turkeys eat is a must thing to know. In this article, you will find all the diet options available for raising this bird successfully. Mash or blend of soybean and oatmeal is the perfect food for poults. Adult turkeys can switch from protein-rich to protein+mineral +vitamin+calcium formula. Wild turkeys are clever enough to manage nutrients they require from plants, fruits, and insects. I hope you like these details.

Roland Carroll

Hi, This is Roland. I love Hunting and it's my hobby. I love to share my hunting experience in this blog. Keep reading all the articles here and let me know what do you think about this site.

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