Wild Turkeys are richer in their meat than the domesticated ones. They were first known for their meat going back to AD where Native Americans consumed them as a major diet.
Later in the recent 20th century, regular hunting made the population of turkeys declined due to its demand. This also affected their popular habitat Woodland forests.

The domestication of Turkeys was believed to be first done by Mexican Indians of the Pre Columbian period about 2000 years ago. In 1519 it got spread to the regions of Spain and other European countries. Gradually, reaching England, the European breeds were then introduced to western North America in the 17th century.
However, Turkey began to be known for its flourishing feathers of different color patterns, it started to gain crucial attention in the meat production business.

This further led to the creation of different Turkey breeds by the process of selective breeding.

wild turkey
Wild Turkey

What do wild turkeys eat?

Wild Turkeys are omnivorous, but they are not picky they can feed on any type of scraps. This brings their diet under a wide range of plants and animals.
Wild Turkeys move in flocks foraging on the grounds consuming the uncovered food from the soil.
And in farms where domesticated turkeys who are gathered in flocks require a suitable feed to nurture them. However Wild turkeys and the domestic turkeys belong to the same species, once in farm settings the process of serving them food needs attention.

  • As some basic food requirements, Turkeys feed mainly on seeds, grains, corn, and dispersed seeds.
  • Fruits like berries, grapes, and other fruits. In spring they feed on leaves and grasses. In the fall, they prefer insects along with seeds.
  • Turkeys also feed on Lizards, worms, snakes, and other small reptiles. They also eat insects like moth, flies, grasshoppers, and spiders.
  • Hickory nuts, beechnuts, and walnuts are some dry fruits Turkeys like to feed on.
  • In an agricultural environment, the commercial feed is extensively used as Turkeys are a major source of meat. The formulated feed is the same for all poultry birds with ingredients that are a combination of many diets. At the same time, a natural diet through foraging is crucial to generate further breeds.
  • As a supplement, it is good to serve corns or grains for the full development of the Turkeys with good weight.
  • However, with all these varieties of food, it is still not that easy for Turkeys to get the appropriate food. The amount and the food they eat also depends upon some factors involving seasonal changes, Location or the region, Breed, Age, and so on.
  • For instance, Turkey forage on food that is easily available and that food may reduce with seasonal changes. Turkeys can adapt to such situations by only feeding on what’s available.
  • Being omnivorous, during winter they feed on insects while in summer, grasses, and buds become their choice.
  • The breed of which the Turkeys also determine the food they consume. Although common eating habits remain the same, Some breeds require care and attention than others. Therefore, special nutrients that provide energy and weight are relevant. Like the broad-breasted whites are famously used for meat production, and it requires a tad different feed to ensure its productivity.
  • With regards to the age, young and mature wild Turkeys can look for food all by themselves by foraging. The broods are taken care of by the females with the best available food.
  •  The regions where turkeys belong is another factor that determines the availability of food. Turkeys in farm regions can get easy access to grains. In desert regions, turkeys feed on reptiles and seeds.
wild turkey food
Wild Turkey Food

How to feed turkeys?

Well, with the information so far, you might have understood that Wild Turkeys are quite self-dependent when it comes to finding food. Credits to the generally available fruits and plants they feed on.
Wild Turkeys aren’t that easily found until you have a farm area where they pay regular visit forging on the available grains and grasses.

If you are confused about setting up a feeding plan for those wild turkeys or you wish to add turkeys to your poultry, take a look at some foundational ways to feed them.

  • First, it’s better not to cut down the oaks and mast trees around your farm. This can bring a huge decline in their visits. Planting grasses and even legumes as supplemental food plots will attract more Wild turkeys. Allowing them to forage on native plants will be a better idea as those plants can grow easily without much care.
  • Finding a suitable feeding area will cause less destruction to your land. As the excessive foraging by the turkeys can affect the landscape. Therefore, prepare a larger platform or ground where you can afford them to freely move around without any loss from scratching.
  • If you are into organic farming, Turkeys will be freer to join in for foraging. otherwise, uses of Insecticides and pest controls can affect the food they eat. It’s better to let the turkeys feed on the food free from such contamination.
  • In case you suspect the health of any turkey amongst the flock, don’t feed them with usual forage. Most farmers sometimes prefer to inject antibiotics. Turkeys shouldn’t be treated without proper prescription. Make sure that you get a prescribed medicine from the Veterinarian.
  • Mostly Turkeys on-farm are fed vegetarian feed. But as we know that they are omnivorous, they can be served with nonveg food. This barely happens because most of the feeds are produced with vegetarian contents as per the demand.
  • Turkeys are mostly seen in Flocks. So don’t forget that you are not feeding a few but they will be mostly large and huge in numbers. Whether they in your backyard as commercial farming or just a visit, you have to ensure that each one gets an ample proportion of food.

Significance of wild turkeys:

One of the birds from the species of Galliformes, Wild turkeys have their origin in North America.
Now, what turkeys have to offer as farm birds involve broader understanding.
With the rising business in the meat industry, Turkey has been in huge demand in western and European countries mainly.
Let’s walk around the Origin, habitats, and some important characteristics of Wild Turkeys that can help you give wider details about the significance of the bird.

Habitats of wild turkeys:

Wild Turkeys have their habitats mostly in open forests, and grasslands. In Summer they choose edges of clearings where they can forage well. At the same time, they look for cover areas around the forest for nesting.
It mostly prefers woodlands near streams and rivers.
Wild Turkeys in different parts of America use specific regions as habitat. Like the Turkeys of northern America live around the humid forest surrounded by oak and cherry.
Wild turkeys can adapt to its conditions remarkably. They are also found in a mixed environment of farmland, and fields as well.
Turkeys can easily survive in a wide variety of habitats.

Features Of wild turkeys:

These below points are some basic physical features and characteristics of Wild Turkeys

  • The male Turkey is commonly called a gobbler or Tom. Female turkeys are simply called as hens.
  • Wild Turkeys are large in size compared to other poultry animals with 36 to 44 inches in length.
  • The parts of a turkey’s body involve the Caruncle, which is the fleshy growth (wattle) on the head and the neck region. Other than that, they also have a fleshy hanging down their beak called a snood. Snoods are longer in males than female wild turkeys.
  • The gobblers have a long hairy fiber in their breast region. That tuft is also called a beard. The hock is their ankle and the shank is their foot.
  • The various breeds have diverse physical features and feather colors. for instance, Ocellated Turkey has a blue head with bright feathers and yellow bumps which give it a different appearance than the usual wild male Turkeys like black turkey or the bourbon red.
  • Wild Turkeys can fly at a short distance of up to 55 miles per hour. On the ground, they run at a speed of 25 miles/hr.
  • Domesticated and wild turkeys as we know are developed in completely two different environments. The special care at farms has made domesticated Turkeys more in weight than the wild ones.
  • The male turkeys are too noisy as they begin to gobble from sunrise and throughout the morning.
  • They can be friendly as well as aggressive. But generally, Turkeys are social animals.
  • They have a poor sense of smell but good eyesight with the detection of colors.
  • The mating process happens mainly during spring with the gobbler attracting the female turkeys by gobbling and spreading its wings.
  • Turkeys can lay up to 16 eggs with one egg per day. The color of the eggs is speckled and brown. The hatching process commonly takes 28 days.

Learning about Wild turkeys is an interesting go through.
Hopefully, The above information has helped you increase your basic understanding of what and how Turkeys eat in general.

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About the Author

I have been raising farm animals for the past 15 years. I will be sharing my knowledge and what I have learned all these years.

Farm Animals Guide

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