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Turkey Care Tips
November 1, 2022

Did you know that today, November 1st, is Adopt A Turkey Day? We know, November is historically a pretty bad month for these guys. If you’re interested in adopting and/or raising turkeys, or just want to learn more, read on! A Las Vegas, NV vet offers some turkey care tips below.

Do Your Research

Many people assume that turkeys are basically large chickens, and should be treated as such. That’s not entirely incorrect, but it’s not quite accurate, either. Turkeys are much cleaner than chickens, which is a plus for many, because you won’t find your birds’ food and bedding all over the place. They also have some very specific care needs. For instance, you’ll need to be aware of Blackhead, which is a disease that chickens carry and can pass to turkeys. Ask your vet for care tips.


Breed is also something to consider. Some kinds of turkeys are better for meat; others are better for eggs. It’s also important to know that only heritage breeds can breed naturally. The others require artificial insemination. (Note: The American Poultry Association recognizes eight heritage breeds: the Standard Bronze, Beltsville Small White, White Holland, Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Slate, Black, and Royal Palm.)


Turkeys need much more room than chickens do, both inside and outside their coops. Your best bet is going to be a large shed or small barn. Do not overcrowd them! You’ll also need a sturdy fence. This is more to keep predators out than to keep your birds in. Regardless of what you may have heard on WKRP In Cincinnati, turkeys can fly. They’re not exactly graceful in the air, but they can definitely make it to a roof or tree branch.


Turkey babies—called poults or sometimes turkeylings—are extremely delicate. Even slight shifts in weather can affect their health! If you plan on hatching your birds, you’ll need to be extremely diligent with watching over the little fluff balls. Ask your vet for specific advice.


While many people raise turkeys for meat or eggs, they can also be fun to have on a farm. These birds—which almost became our national symbol—can be both fun and affectionate, and can get quite attached to their humans. If you have the space, you may want to offer a few of these unique birds a ‘pardon’ and provide them with a great retirement.

Our Advice on Turkey Care Tips in 2024

What misconceptions do people have about turkeys compared to chickens?

A common misconception about turkeys compared to chickens is that their care and behavior are nearly identical, simply because both are poultry. However, turkeys are generally much cleaner animals, creating less mess in their living spaces. They also have specific health needs, such as a higher susceptibility to diseases like Blackhead, which chickens can carry and transmit to turkeys. Additionally, turkeys require more space in their coops and roaming areas than chickens. Understanding these differences is crucial for anyone considering raising turkeys, as their care requirements differ from those of chickens.

What specific care needs do turkeys have that potential owners should know?

Turkeys have specific care needs that potential owners must consider for their well-being. Firstly, they require ample space to roam and forage, requiring a larger enclosure than chickens. Turkeys are also prone to diseases like Blackhead, necessitating vigilant health monitoring and possibly separate housing from chickens to prevent disease transmission. Additionally, turkeys have distinct nutritional requirements, with diets that must be rich in proteins and appropriately balanced. Owners should also know the need for secure fencing to protect turkeys from predators despite their flying ability. Lastly, understanding the breed is crucial, as some are raised for meat, others for eggs, and heritage breeds require different breeding approaches.

How much space do turkeys require for their living environment?

Turkeys require significantly more space than chickens for their living environment to ensure their health and well-being. Each turkey should have at least 6 to 8 square feet of space inside their coop or shelter. For outdoor roaming and foraging areas, turkeys need a minimum of 20 to 25 square feet per bird. This spacious environment helps prevent stress, allows for natural behaviors like foraging and roaming, and reduces the risk of disease transmission among the flock. Providing adequate space is essential for raising healthy, happy turkeys.

Can turkeys fly, and how does this affect their housing needs?

Yes, turkeys can fly, especially the wild and heritage breeds, capable of short bursts of flight to escape predators or roost in trees. This ability affects their housing needs by necessitating secure, high fencing or covered enclosures to prevent them from flying out of their designated areas. While they may not be graceful flyers, they can reach rooftops or tree branches, so their housing must accommodate this natural behavior to keep them safe and contained within their habitat.

How can turkeys form bonds with humans?

Turkeys can form strong bonds with humans through gentle interaction and care. Like many animals, they respond positively to consistent and kind handling, feeding, and vocal communication. Spending time with them daily, offering treats by hand, and engaging in calm, soothing talking or singing can help build trust. Turkeys are surprisingly social and can show affection towards their caregivers, recognizing them and even seeking attention or companionship. Creating a safe, stress-free environment also supports this bonding process, allowing turkeys to feel secure and connected with their human caretakers.

Do you want to learn more about turkey care? Contact us, your Las Vegas, NV animal clinic, today!