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How can you tell the gender of a turkey?
Feathers Tell the Story. In these birds, females have brown down feathers, while males have black. Another feather method looks at the feather buds right after birth. In females, the primary wing feather stubs will display opened plumage. In males, the tips are white and toothpicklike.
How do you tell if a turkey is a tom or a hen?
The head of a tom turkey is a combination of mainly red, white, and blue, which is one of the reasons it was almost chosen as the National Bird of the USA. A hen’s head is not as colorful and is mostly light blue or bluish-gray in appearance.
At what age can you tell if a turkey is male or female?
Trying to determine the gender of your newly-hatched turkey poults can be difficult, but when they are around 3 weeks of age the males (jakes) may begin to strut. You will see them fan their tail feathers, drop their wings and hold out all of their contour feathers to make their bodies appear larger.
Whether found down on the farm or deep in the forest, turkeys, both wild and domestic, are well-known members of the bird family. So well-known, in fact, that turkeys nearly became the national symbol of America rather than the bald eagle. But have you ever wondered how to tell the difference between male and female turkeys?
Image Credit: MOHANN, PixabayAdult wild turkey hens are visibly smaller than adult toms. Male turkeys also start to develop a snood, a flap of skin that hangs over their beak, earlier than females.
As we discussed, its important to be able to tell the difference between male and female wild turkeys because of hunting rules and regulations. If you have a turkey breeding farm, obviously youll need to have both toms and hens so its important that you can tell the difference. Whether you raise turkeys on a farm or hunt them in the wild, knowing the differences between toms and hens is critical for your success.
Without that knowledge, you may find yourself facing a fine for taking aim at the wrong bird or wondering why you cant seem to hatch any new baby turkeys! A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand.
A small proportion of female turkeys may have a beard and therefore can be legally harvested. However, their loss reduces the reproductive potential of the turkey population. To avoid misidentification, use the following features below to accurately determine the turkeys sex.
Long bristle/filament-like beard Strut with tail fanned
and wings dropped
About This Article
To sex a turkey, check to see if it has a beard of stiff feathers running down its chest, which will only be present on a male turkey. Alternatively, you can look at the color of the turkey’s feathers. If it has colorful feathers, it’s likely a male, but if it has brown or gray feathers, it’s probably a female. You can also watch to see if the turkey fans out its tail or makes gobbling noises, which only male turkeys do when they’re trying to display dominance. For more tips, like how to tell how old a turkey is, scroll down!
Wild Turkeys: Male vs Female
Hunting wild turkeys is a popular pastime in many parts of the country. However, in most places, it’s not legal to hunt female turkeys, known as hens. For this reason, it’s important to know how to tell the difference between hens and male turkeys, also called toms.
Male Wild Turkeys (Toms)
As adults, male wild turkeys are quite a bit larger than adult hens. They have darker feathers, especially on their chest, with a bright metallic shine. Tom turkeys also have a long beard from the center of their chest that can grow as long as 10 inches. Their heads are a mix of red, white, and blue coloring. Male turkeys also grow large, sharp spurs on the back of their legs, just above their feet.Male wild turkeys can often be seen strutting and puffing up their feathers, in a show of power. They also make the classic “gobble, gobble” noise that we associate with turkeys.
Female Wild Turkeys (Hens)
Adult wild turkey hens are visibly smaller than adult toms. Their feathers are a lighter color, brown or bronze in appearance. They have no spurs and seldom have beards, although there are rare exceptions. Female wild turkeys have blue or blue-gray-colored heads with no red.Unlike male wild turkeys, females rarely strut or fluff up their feathers. They yelp and cluck rather than gobble.
Domestic Turkeys: Male vs Female
The many different breeds of domestic turkey were all developed from wild turkeys. Domestic turkeys are generally raised for meat, as breeders, or kept as pets. Unlike wild turkeys, male and female domestic turkeys generally have very similar coloring, especially when they are babies.
Male Domestic Turkeys
Like wild turkeys, male domestic turkeys are significantly larger than females. This size difference begins to be obvious even when the baby turkeys are only a few weeks old. Male turkeys also start to develop a snood, a flap of skin that hangs over their beak, earlier than females. Their snoods are generally longer even as adults.Male turkeys have larger wattles, the flap of skin under their beak, than females. They also have more caruncles, bumps or growths, on their heads and necks. Both the wattles and caruncles of male turkeys turn bright red when they are strutting and showing off for females. Like wild turkeys, male domestic turkeys grow beards and spurs.Male domestic turkeys strut and fan their feathers starting at an early age.
Female Domestic Turkeys
Hen turkeys eat much less and are smaller than their male counterparts. Their snood, wattle, and caruncles are smaller as well. Unlike the males, who usually have bare heads, females typically have some small feathers on their heads. Hens also have slimmer heads than males.A few female turkeys do grow beards but they’re usually a lot shorter than the males. If they grow spurs, these also will be smaller and less visible than those of tom turkeys.Female domestic turkeys will display strutting and feather fanning behaviors. Generally, this happens among a group of hens trying to establish dominance. Sometimes, female turkeys will also show off for the males.