What food to give your new turkey?
Turkeys like other fowl have certain requirements to keep them healthy, safe & happy. Before bring home your new turkey please be aware of the necessities. One requirement is high protein turkey feed. (or gamebird feed)
Game bird nutrition requirements are posted all over the internet. So the following information is an just a simple description of what we feed our flock of pet turkeys.
(Nothing scientific about it-we are not speed growing to butcher)
Who doesn't like blueberries?
Snacks: Favorite snack: Bananas. Who would have guessed that?
Our turkeys come running when we walk out the door of the house, as we are almost always carrying a snack for the eager flock. By far, the turkey’s favorite snacks are small pieces of Bananas. However they readily gobble down any type of bread, raisins and grapes.
When in season, acorns are eagerly snatched up and swallowed.
Turkeys enjoying bananas on my YouTube page
This brand is not in my area however it was suggested as superior high protein feed.
"Three Grain Scratch" is 75% of the diet for our birds
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Principal diet “Three Grain Scratch”
Beyond the snacks; our turkey flock’s principal diet consists of “Three Grain Scratch” from the feed store (no specific brand loyalty)
It has been suggested by other "turkey fans" that this is not a good feed for turkeys, however our flock is very healthy on it and we do supplement it with high protein food.
The brand of scratch we use the most.
(Not really a preference, but this is what Brian carries)
Protein! Must have Protein!
Like other “game birds” (quail, ducks, geese, etc.) Turkeys require additional protein to their diets.
-When purchasing food, make brief a comparison to chicken and turkey feeds-the different amount of protein is right up front. (Or just seek the title 'gamebird')
We feed the adults a couple of handfuls of “Game Bird Sporting Pellets” or “Mallard Duck Conditioner”- to achieve the approximately 18% of protein required to keep turkeys healthy.
The poults (turkey chicks) and young birds are fed “Game Bird Starter” – a finely ground meal with approximately 28% protein.
The high protein requirement for the baby turkeys is self-evident in their behavior. Adults concentrate on eating vegetation, but little turkeys are consummate hunters, (little Jurassic dinosaurs) forever on the lookout for insects. A mole cricket is a prize trophy! In fact a common demise of baby turkeys is choking after eating random items that are too large -- because the item looks like an insect.
This is the high protein "Game Bird Starter" we use for the baby turkeys. Although I prefer to mix this with the slightly coarser Purina "Game Bird Chow"
-The poults seem to waste less when I mix the two brands.
We supplement the adult turkey diet with high protein Mallard pellets.
Brevard Farm and Ranch Feed store on Clearlake in Cocoa have helped up place many birds to new homes!
Our flock of Heritage Turkeys free range all day, eating grasses, clover, leafy plants (my tomato plants) and will spend hours stripping the seed off of Bahia grass.
In late summer/autumn they gorge on acorns & Florida beauty-berries.
Oh yes, and as mentioned the tomato leaves are a delight when they can get into the garden.
Summer & fall "Beauty Berries"
Video clip: Turkeys feasting on Florida Beauty Berries
Garden Raiders...Once inside the garden fence the tomatoes leaves are a feast!
Video Clip: turkeys feasting on tomato leaves
Commercial Oyster Shell
Calcium Although not exactly food...
Calcium is required for bone growth and egg production. We were purchasing oyster shell from the feed store for the few laying chickens we keep and soon noticed that the turkey hens that had been recently been bred took a distinct attentiveness to eating the shell. (This also cued me in to keep an eye out for a secretive nest) So oyster shell was a common feature provided to the birds.
Then by sheer accident I brought home some tiny shells after kayaking on the Indian River. The turkeys loved them! So I brought home more and they were quickly eaten.
I still purchase the bag of oyster shell on occasion (impulse buy) but more often a simple trip to the Beach line (528) causeway and for no cost, I bring home five gallons of tiny shells that all the turkeys and chickens love. We make the attempt to keep some around for both the laying turkeys and chickens, but also for the young birds.
Grit: and also not exactly food...
Here on the east coast of Florida, we only have to dig down about two feet and we hit clean beach sand.
Every now and then I will place a shovelful on the ground and the birds gobble it down like their favorite food.
Can’t explain the reason, although I understand the little ones require grit to help digest their food (perhaps as gizzard stones). Nonetheless it is surprising to watch the adults eat sand. And love it.
Well a recent internet search stated domestic turkeys “loved” kitchen leftovers that would normally be tossed on a compost pile.
“NO” at least our birds are so spoiled they will not even touch a whole vegetable, let alone the garbage parts. I can imagine if the turkeys are starving they would be forced to eat garbage- as would people.
Strongly recommend you do not get turkeys- if "leftovers" are the food you
plan on giving your birds.
Update: Because of Hurricane Irma, -our oak trees produced no acorns this year. So we collected these free snacks from a park when in Orlando.
Old Blue berries? The turkeys love em!
Deficiencies in Chickens and Turkeys
When practicable we get our turkey food from
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