Turkeys are common guests on the dinner table, particularly for holiday meals such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but what would wild turkeys eat if they could plan the menu? Learning about turkeys‘ preferred foods can help birders better understand these birds’ foraging habits and where to find turkeys throughout the year when different food sources are available.
In captivity or in agricultural settings, domestic turkeyswhich are the same genetic species as wild turkeysare often fed a special commercial feed formulated for game birds, turkeys, or poultry. Some farmers, however, focus on heritage turkey breeds and offer a more natural diet for the birds to eat, including allowing them to forage freely through pastures and fields.
In spring, they eat more fresh buds, grasses, and similar plant material, while insects and berries are more popular fare in summer. For the first month of the birds’ lives, they eat a much higher percentage of insects, mollusks, reptiles, or other meat to get the protein essential for healthy growth. Turkey scratching can damage turf or delicate landscaped beds, however, so plan a feeding area in a spot you don’t mind getting torn up or trampled.
Minimize or eliminate herbicides and insecticides that could contaminate foods wild turkeys eat, particularly during the summer when young birds are more susceptible to toxic chemicals.
What is the best thing to feed wild turkeys?
Plant Native Oaks: Acorns are a key food source for wild turkeys. ….Plant Other Nut and Berry-Producing Plants: In addition to oak acorns, other staples of the wild turkey diet include beech nuts, pecans, hickory nuts, crabapples, and hackberries.
Is it bad to feed wild turkeys?
Feeding turkeys. Keep wildlife wild! Never deliberately feed wild turkeys to attract them to your property or keep them around. Turkeys can survive very well on natural foods and do not need handouts from people.
How do you attract wild turkeys?
Food. Turkeys are omnivorous and will sample a wide variety of foods. To attract turkeys to your yard, you can provide them with a large ground feeding station containing cracked corn or mixed birdseed. Turkeys will also happily clean up any spills under hanging feeders you may have up for other birds.
Do wild turkeys eat mice?
Turkeys Eat What? Just about anything they can reach and shove past their beaks, including: … Small snakes, mice and moles – Young turkeys seeking nutritious protein will catch and eat small mammals and reptiles.
In the wild, turkeys thrive in mature forests with abundant trees, and their diet changes with the season. In the spring, they will eat most leaves, buds, and grasses or whatever other plant material that they can find. In the fall, they prefer fruits, berries, seeds, and insects as they become available.
So, if deforestation has caused mature forests to become unavailable, these turkeys will flee to agricultural lands and eat whatever is available there. In swampy areas, turkeys may eat more plant matter and snack on reptiles, frogs, and salamanders.
In the spring, turkeys tend to forage on tender plant matter, like buds, leaves, and grasses. If snow cover makes foraging difficult, they will eat pine needles, buds, ferns, lichens, and moss. Hens will often lead their broods to areas with more insects, as they provide protein for the birds development and are a steady source of food.
Hens incubating eggs typically sit on them for much of the time, only taking short breaks to eat and drink.
What do turkeys eat? Turkeys love to eat. Whether its cracked corn, freshly fallen crabapples, or even jumping grasshoppers, turkeys are always on the hunt for their next snack.
A more natural habitat will allow turkeys to thrive, making them happier and plumper. Wild turkeys are omnivorous and will eat a
variety of different foods including plants and animals.
For plants, wild turkeys love acorns, walnuts,
and hickory nuts. Wild Turkeys will also eat corn, wheat, seeds,
and grain, as well as berries and crabapples. As for meat, wild turkeys will eat insects
such as spiders and caterpillars as well as snails and small lizards.
This is when turkeys have access to a larger area and can naturally feed on insects and vegetation. Be prepared for this, so create feeding grounds that are on dry dirt where there wont be any cause for damage. These will provide an
abundant, natural food source for your turkeys to forage under.
Most people naturally think about raising backyard chickens, but when it comes to cleanliness, turkeys have them beat. While you might think of turkeys in North America as being simply Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners , in reality, they can be enjoyed year-round. Backyard-raised turkeys taste delicious and are a great, healthy addition to any diet.
Wild turkeys can be quite aggressive , especially if they are protecting their food source or feel intimidated by a larger animal. Furthermore, turkeys can flap their wings quite quickly, causing a lot of confusion. You can feed your turkey flock an assortment of natural foods including seeds, grains, apples, and even bugs.
How They Eat
Wild turkeys are opportunistically omnivorous, which means they will readily sample a wide range of foods, both animal and vegetable. They forage frequently and will eat many different things, including:In captivity or in agricultural settings, domestic turkeys—which are the same genetic species as wild turkeys—are often fed a special commercial feed formulated for game birds, turkeys, or poultry. These commercial feeds typically contain a mix of material to simulate these birds’ highly varied diets. Many turkey farmers also supplement their flock’s feeding with additional corn, grain, or other foods. The diet of domestic turkeys is often formulated to encourage heavier birds and faster growth to increase commercial profits. Some farmers, however, focus on heritage turkey breeds and offer a more natural diet for the birds to eat, including allowing them to forage freely through pastures and fields.
What Affects a Turkey’s Diet?
Many things can affect a wild turkey’s diet. They are not picky birds, so a single turkey’s diet may vary from day to day. They are extremely opportunistic, which means they tend to eat things as they find them. They don’t necessarily go looking for something in particular.
Turkeys usually live in mature forests, but these forests can vary depending on the region. The exact nuts, fruits, bugs, and plant matter found in a forest will depend on the type of forest that it is.Turkeys also live outside of mature forests. In agricultural areas, much of their diet may be the available grains and crops being grown. Turkeys will make do with what they have. So, if deforestation has caused mature forests to become unavailable, these turkeys will flee to agricultural lands and eat whatever is available there.Turkeys that live in drier areas may eat lizards and similar small animals. Cacti and seeds may become more popular, as will any available insects. In swampy areas, turkeys may eat more plant matter and snack on reptiles, frogs, and salamanders.
In different seasons, different foods are available. In the spring, turkeys tend to forage on tender plant matter, like buds, leaves, and grasses. They will also find leftover nuts. During summertime, insects will be more plentiful and will make up most of a turkey’s diet. They may eat berries as those come in the season as well. During the winter and fall, turkeys will eat fruits, grains, and seeds. If snow cover makes foraging difficult, they will eat pine needles, buds, ferns, lichens, and moss.
Poults need more food than adults. They will spend most of their time eating. This makes their diet more varied than adults. Hens will often lead their broods to areas with more insects, as they provide protein for the birds’ development and are a steady source of food.Adults will eat mostly plant matter, though they may eat bugs if those become abundant.
When Do Turkeys Eat?
Turkeys tend to eat opportunistically throughout the day. They will simply wander around and eat things as they find them. Much of their day is spent looking for food, stripping seeds, and chasing insects. If they find something edible, they will find a way to eat it.Most of their feeding will be done in the evening and morning, though. Many animals are less active during the hottest part of the day, so they will seek out less food during this time.There are certain occasions when turkeys will fast. Hens incubating eggs typically sit on them for much of the time, only taking short breaks to eat and drink. Gobblers will only eat sporadically during the spring months, as much of their attention will be focused on mating.
Do Turkeys Eat Different Food Than Chickens?
Turkeys and chickens have different nutritional requirements, so they cannot eat the same foods. This is especially true for the younger animals. Turkeys need more protein because they grow faster than chickens. In captivity, it is best to keep them apart to ensure that each species is given appropriate food.Turkeys are not just bigger chickens, so you cannot simply give them chicken feed. In captivity, it is best to provide turkeys with plenty of room to free-range because this is the easiest way to ensure a diverse, appropriate diet. You will often need 1/2 acre for every 12 birds. There are also commercial turkey feeds available. Be sure that whatever you choose is high in protein.
Wild Turkeys (what do they eat)
Wild turkeys are omnivorous and will eat a variety of different foods including plants and animals.For plants, wild turkeys love acorns, walnuts, and hickory nuts. They will eat these nuts either cracked open or whole as well as plant matter.Wild Turkeys will also eat corn, wheat, seeds, and grain, as well as berries and crabapples.As for meat, wild turkeys will eat insects such as spiders and caterpillars as well as snails and small lizards.
Different types of turkey feed
Turkey babies, or poults, need their own special feed. Be sure to use a game starter or chick starter that has extra protein in it.Once a turkey is eight weeks old, you can switch to a grower feed. Use a turkey feed specially for this, as chicken feed will have less protein in it.If you are growing turkeys for slaughter, they will be ready after the six-month mark.
How to feed and water turkeys
Turkeys will eat constantly if you let them, so be prepared for constant foraging. Set up multiple food sources where nutrients will be placed.While turkeys eat, they often scratch their feet. As a result, their feeding grounds will quickly be torn up.Be prepared for this, so create feeding grounds that are on dry dirt where there won’t be any cause for damage.For water, provide large water tubs that are low to the ground. This will allow turkeys to easily sip their water. Make sure the water is fresh and clean.If you have space, it’s a nice idea to plant fruit trees, such as crabapple and cherry trees. These will provide an abundant, natural food source for your turkeys to forage under.If you have baby turkeys or turkey poults, you will need to keep them safe. Like chicks, poults need a lot of heat.Keep them inside for the first eight weeks, gradually giving these young birds time in the sun before allowing them to be outside full time.For turkey poults, don’t leave large water containers out. These tiny poults can easily fall into the water and won’t be able to escape.Instead, you can use bottle feeders or very shallow water dishes.Turkey poults should be given special feed that is high in protein for the first eight weeks before being switched to an adult, growing feed.
Advantages of raising backyard turkeys
Most people naturally think about raising backyard chickens, but when it comes to cleanliness, turkeys have them beat.Turkeys are far cleaner and food and hay won’t be scattered everywhere.While you might think of turkeys in North America as being simply Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, in reality, they can be enjoyed year-round. Backyard-raised turkeys taste delicious and are a great, healthy addition to any diet.Finally, if you want a bit of personality in your backyard, turkeys are the way to go. They are quite social and sometimes even mimic dogs in their friendliness and loyalty.You will need quite a bit of space for turkeys, however. Not only do they like to roam, they can become quite noisy, especially male turkeys, also known as toms.The more space you have between your backyard and your neighbor’s the happier everyone will be.
Can turkeys smell you?
Turkeys have very few taste buds (just a few hundred compared to a human’s 10,000). As a result,
Can turkeys hurt you?
When turkeys feel threatened, they can attack you. This can involve the use of their sharp beaks and talons.Furthermore, turkeys can flap their wings quite quickly, causing a lot of confusion.It’s best to stay calm around turkeys and not come between them and their food source.
Do wild turkeys eat ticks?
Yes, wild turkeys eat deer ticks. However, it is not their main source of food and thus is not an efficient way of controlling the tick population.