What do domestic turkeys eat? (With Expert Tips)

Joy Dolcini

domestic turkeys eat

Before farming turkeys, one question may come into your mind that “what do domestic turkeys eat?” That’s a common question for a farm beginner. Well, domestic turkeys eat various kinds of foods. Mainly they need protein to maintain a healthy life.

A balanced diet and treat are suitable for them. You may also fatten up your turkeys by increasing protein in their meals at a certain age. They are not wild and become friendly once you get close to them. Though they can eat various items, there are some harmful foods for them. Being a good handler, you need to avoid those unhealthy foods for them.

Domestic turkey vs wild turkey

wild and domestic turkeys

Though they are the same species, many things make a difference between them. The differences are given below:

Survival Skills:

Wild turkeys learn to survive in nature by birth. They teach her baby how to survive in wildlife like searching for food, saving from hunters, defending and attacking other animals, etc. On the other hand, domestic turkeys don’t know survival skills. They were born on a farm, and the farm owner takes care of them.

Foods habit :

Wild turkeys hunt food. They scratch up the surface and find worms or snails to eat. All-day long, they search for various foods and live a life. Domestic turkey’s food habits are different . It does not get vast space like wild turkeys for food searching. 

Farm owners provide them commercial foods. They are habitat to farm feed since their birth. Farm owners give them fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc., to eat. They get a little space or field where they could search for natural food. They are not capable of finding food and live instead depending on the farm owner.


Wild turkeys are tasty, but there is not so much meat you can find. Their meat is famous throughout the world. Domestic turkey is delicious too and can supply more meat’s demand than the wild one.


The wild turkey is dependent on natural foods. They search and eat all day long. That’s why they lose weight, but that’s not the same for domestic turkey. Farm owners may increase their daily foods and gain weight. It gets nutritious food. As a result,the domestic one gains more weight.


Wild turkeys are fighters. They can battle with each other or against another animal for their survival. But domestic animals are not fighters and become cowardly by birth.


Wild turkeys sometimes get affected by various diseases. They don’t get cured and die. Domestic turkeys get treatment from their farm owners. For excellent care, they get well and live a healthy life.

Other common differences:

 You can also see differences between colors, behaviors, breeding, etc. Researchers get a close look into the lives of turkeys. As close you get to turkeys, you can notice more differences between a wild and a domestic turkey.

Domestic turkeys eating items

what do domestic turkeys eat

Turkeys are not choosy in eating foods. But farm owners must feed them wisely for good health. There are food variations for them. It depends on the significant situation on what to give them to eat or not. I’m sharing some common types of foods .

Commercial feeds:  

It is formulated based on the experience of poultry nutritionists around the globe.It provides vitamins, nutrition, and minerals to a turkey for a better life. Researchers put millions of dollars in research to make a commercial feed to ensure their healthy lives.

Helping turkeys to get at their potential energy but not so fast due to the safety of their health. You can get these turkey feed in stores. Get a commercial feed according to your hen’s age. Don’t use chicken feeds as it will not complete the required nutrition needs.

Natural diet: 

In the wild, turkeys got natural foods like snails and worms. They eat fruits, insects, berries, seeds, nuts, plants, etc. Their favorite is acorns. Most of the time of day, they search for natural foods to eat.

It is difficult to provide proper nutrition for farm owners without natural foods. You need to supply some common natural foods like scraping vegetables or mealworms from dirt. Taking them to a nearby field, they can search for food by scratching the surface. If you provide commercial feed once or twice a week, they will like to hunt their food in nature. Here is a list of foods turkey enjoys:


  • Oats
  • Seeds
  • Corn 
  • Flax
  • Niger
  • Millet
  • Millo
  • Pasta(cooked)
  • Rice(cooked)
  • Wheat


  • Apple
  • Banana(without peel)
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Honeydew(seeds and flesh)
  • Crabapples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Strawberry 
  • Watermelon(seeds and flesh)


  • Cauliflowers
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Beets( vegetable and greens)
  • Brussels  sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplants
  • Lettuce
  • Summer squash
  • Pumpkin (seeds and flesh)


  • Acorns
  • Almonds
  • Hickory nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Peanuts(commercial food grain)
  • Walnut(Commercial nuts rinsed in water to remove salt)


  • Yogurt
  • Cheese


For treating, you can give turkeys fruits, nuts, berries, etc., from the above safe list. They naturally eat high protein food.  You should limit foods consisting of high protein for their health issues. Try to feed them by your hand to get familiar. You may also put foods near your feet on the floor, so the turkey loses its fear of getting close.

Baby turkeys eating items

Baby turkeys eating

Baby turkeys eat greens, pieces of bread, garden trimmings, etc. They need turkey starter crumbles blend for their growth and overall development. Rolled oats and corn meals mashed in a blender are the best for babies. But that’s not for a regular diet. Less than 28% protein is suitable for a standard diet. They don’t have teeth. So food should be blended or small in size more than adult foods. 

You can give them chick starters for babies. It does not contain high protein. For the first few days, try to provide food on a paper towel. So they would learn to eat. A good food measurement is necessary for a daily diet. Don’t give breeder mash, crumbles, or pellets to baby turkeys. 

It is high in calcium and toxication. Baby turkeys may have problems with kidney, liver, or bone and cause death because of toxic. Many farmers waste by giving the extra or improper distribution of foods. They are domestic. You can quickly get closer and serve them food out of your hand. The response and try to get the attention of yours. You may increase and add more nutrition for them eventually as they grow up.

Feeding turkeys to fatten them up

Turkey is one of the popular sources of meat. In that case, if you want to make them fatty, you will start giving more proteins to your turkeys like younger birds. Increase the measure of meals. Offering 30% protein in bird feed may result in good. You can use commercial foods like alfalfa as a protein source. Adding corn and oats is also a good decision.

Grains are an excellent source for gaining weight. But it does not build muscles—it fats. Different types of food to your turkey inspires them to eat more. 11%-14 % of proteins consist of oats. It is an excellent grain for turkey or birds.

 Another simple way to fatten them up is by giving food in one location. Turkeys will not go anywhere to search for food. They will come to a particular place and eat food. 

As a result, calories will not burn, and efficiently you can feed them more food—things to note that it is good to give them proteins to grow and develop muscles. But don’t give too many proteins to younger or baby turkeys. Later on, they could face a severe problem with inner organs like kidneys or livers. You can start the fattening up process on 3-4 months-old turkeys.

Prevented food to feed turkeys

Proper feeding is essential for Turkey’s health. In the beginning, it may seem very easy. But it’s complex. Farm owners like to give home-grown foods first. Knowing the specific food is also significant enough. It would be helpful if you make a list of foods to give and not to give.

Chicken feed

It would not harm them. But it will not fulfill their needs because they need more protein than a chicken to grow well. Lacking demand for chicken foods, so it is better not to serve that feeds if you want some muscle and healthy turkeys. Arrange different foods for chicken and turkeys.

Avoid livestock feeds:

It has protein but not so much that an adult turkey needs. It is suitable for baby or young turkeys. But in livestock food, you cannot get enough vitamins to the content of a turkey. Feeding them livestock for a long time causes low weight or lack of muscles. It is not helpful to grow meat.

Uncooked beans

Never feed uncooked or dry beans!! It contains an insecticide that is fatal to birds, even in a small amount. Always give them cooked beans.


It’s a nutritious fruit for us but not for birds. They also can not take it easy. Avocados can fail the cells of the heart and cause the heart to fail. For birds or turkeys, it is highly prohibited to give avocados to eat. Don’t give avocado and pit or its peel to them in your farm. Otherwise, it can be a fatal disease.


Eggplants or tomato plants leaf, raw meat, chocolate, etc., things you can not give to your Turkey. They are not digestible for them and create health issues.

Give turkeys foods that suit them instead of making them sick. Good food gives you healthy turkey and a good farm.

Have Any Questions?

Do turkeys eat bread?

Turkey’s eating habit is quite simple. Their foods are available and near to our hands. You can offer them bread because it is good food for them. It’s a nutritious food for turkeys. But give them occasionally, not regularly. There are some toxic effects of feeding them bread regularly.

Can turkeys eat chicken feed?

Honestly, the answer is no! Though they can eat chicken feeds, it would not be enough for them. Turkey needs more protein and nutrition than chicken in its diet. So their food or diet is not the same. You will not get an excellent healthy turkey by chicken feeds.

Can turkeys eat bananas?

Yes, turkeys eat bananas. Bananas are their favorite snack. They also love to eat  grapes, bread, etc. You can give them small pieces of bananas. They could snatch and swallow bananas. It provides nutrition and helps them to grow well and healthy.

Can two tom turkeys live together? 

Turkeys live together. They are cohabitants. But some caveats are needed. They would like to live in groups like chicken. But there is something about the ruling. For the leadership, they can fight with each other.

A battle can cause serious injuries. Too many turkeys living together affect the production and health of them.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, you have answered the question “what do domestic turkeys eat?” from the above discussions. Making them healthy and happy helps you to breed them and get more eggs. You may also get profit by selling them or enjoying their meal on the table.

On special occasions, turkey is very demandable as a dish. To maintain their good health, don’t be lazy to check out your turkeys daily. Keeping an eye on their routine food because proper nutritious feeding may make you a prosperous farm owner. Farming turkeys are both profitable and enjoyable.

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