What Do Turkeys Eat? Domestic Or Wild

Turkeys are birds on the larger side of things, right? This means that they may have a slightly different diet to other domestic birds e.g. ducks and chickens. So, what do turkeys eat? The domestic turkeys or those in the wild. Let’s take a look!

what do turkeys eat
What Do Turkeys Eat?

What Do Domestic Turkeys Eat?

If you have a domestic turkey, then the bulk of their diet should be turkey feed. In fact, we cannot stress enough just how important it is that any type of feed you give them has been specially formulated for turkeys.

The thing with turkeys is that they are a bird that needs to have a lot of protein in their diet. Far more than any other type o domestic bird. While they can forage for protein to an extent, it can be difficult if they live on the same parcel of land.

They may not have ready access to the same types of protein that a wild turkey may have. This is why actual proper turkey feed has been designed with additional protein in mind.

Honestly, while you probably can try and concoct your own diet for the turkeys, turkey feed is just going to make things a whole lot easier for you.

It ensures that you are giving your animals the right amount of nutrients that they need. Do make sure that it is a high quality feed to guarantee that the turkeys are going to be as healthy as possible.

Except the commercial turkey feed, you should give them a nice mix of:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Wheat
  • Plant matter

You can even give your turkeys leftovers if you want. It doesn’t even matter if there is meat mixed into it. The turkeys will love it, and it will give them a bit of extra protein.

Just make sure that any leftovers you give them have been completely cooked, and ensure that there are no plants from the onion family (and this includes garlic) in there!

The fruits and vegetables should be a treat a few times per week.

The rest of the time, you can let your birds just forage. What they eat as a domestic bird will be pretty close to what they would be eating if they were in the wild.

This means that they will enjoy tucking into insects, berries, nuts, plants, etc. This, of course, does mean that if they are going to be wandering around your garden, you will probably want to protect any plants that they may come into contact with.

We promise you; if the turkey has an opportunity to eat a plant, it is probably going to be eating that plant!

It is worth noting that the natural instinct for a turkey is to forage. They will be foraging almost constantly. As a result, a lot of people do suggest that you set up various feeding bowls around the area the turkeys walk around in. This helps to play into their natural instincts.

The feeding bowls may even have different types of food in!

What Do Wild Turkeys Eat?

To be honest, what turkeys in the wild isn’t going to be that different from what they eat when they are domesticated. Although, they may be a little bit more carnivorous in the world.

However, this is mostly because food may be a little bit more limited than if they were in your backyard.

what do turkeys eat
What Do Wild Turkeys Eat?

In the wild, turkeys will mostly be hunting down nuts and berries. They are almost always going to be scavenging for some food. After all, they are larger animals.

They do need to have a decent number of calories flowing in. If they can get it in their mouth, then they are probably going to be munching down on it rather sharpish.

Turkeys tend to eat a lot of insects in the wild. This is going to be providing them with a decent amount of protein, after all. In addition to this, they may end up chewing on some smaller animals.

This is normally going to be lizards. However, once again, if it is something that the turkeys are going to be able to get into the mouth, then they are probably going to be ending up eating it at some point.

Turkeys Know What They Can and Can’t Eat

Turkeys are smart birds. They know what they can and can’t eat. The vast majority of the time, they will be avoiding food they know will make them sick. Interestingly, there are fewer foods that are poisonous to turkeys than other birds. This does make things a little bit easier.

These are things that you should 100% be avoiding feeding your turkeys:

  • Chicken feed. It isn’t dangerous to them, it just does not contain the nutrients that a turkey needs to thrive, particularly on the protein front. This can cause them to starve.
  • Avocado. This can give them a heart attack.
  • Uncooked beans will also give them a heart attack. In fact, just one or two beans could potentially be deadly to a smaller turkey!
  • Seeds from fruits. They contain cyanide. This is deadly to smaller turkeys.
  • Onions
  • Dairy
  • Uncooked potatoes
  • The leaves from a tomato plant

Honestly, if you are raising domestic turkeys, then stick to turkey feed, plus a few fruits and vegetables regularly. You may also wish to give them some wheat or other type of grain.

They will love it. Ideally, you will also have berry bushes and nut bushes in your garden. This means that the turkeys will be able to forage for their food if they want. If you stick to this, then your turkeys should be fairly healthy.


Turkeys will eat just about anything, and they need to do that. They are large birds. Even if you give your own turkeys a decent diet, the chances are pretty high that they are going to go out there and forage even more.

Generally speaking, your turkeys will know which foods they can and cannot eat. However, you may still need to take your own precautions. After all, why would you risk giving your turkeys something that could make them sick?

Related articles:
– Blue Slate turkey
– Narragansett turkey
What do wild baby ducks eat?

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