How to Breed Turkeys

Two Methods:Before HatchingAfter Hatching

Turkeys aren't like chickens. They are simply unique birds that can become your best friend, your Thanksgiving Dinner, your business, and many more cases. Whatever the case, this guide will help you with breeding turkeys.

Method 1
Before Hatching

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    Before you get turkeys, ask yourself if turkeys are right for you. If you don't really like them, it is best off not to get turkeys because you will be less apt to care for them, and if you don't care for them, what's their use?
    • Be sure your town doesn't have anything against keeping turkeys. Do your research and you'll avoid some unexpected and rather unwanted surprises.
    • Consider your neighbors, too. Although turkeys tend to not be as smelly as chickens and toms don't make nearly as much noise as roosters, you may have some picky neighbors and either tell you to get rid of them, or worse, report you to the neighborhood staff.
    • Think about any financial trouble you may be having. Don't get turkeys if it will do damage to your budget, for both you and your potential turkeys. Coops, food, water, space, feeders, waterers, incubators- what's next? All together, these can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars that you might not have.
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    Buy a tom and a hen. If you are going to pick them out as chicks (Turkey babies are called 'poults') to raise and subsequently breed, be sure they are correctly sexed. Sexing is commonly incorrectly done in small birds, due to their small nature. Larger birds are recommended for food purposes, but recently hatched ones are recommended for show and friendship purposes because you can bond with smaller birds easier.
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    Feed and water your birds every day and check frequently to be sure both containers are full. Resist your instinctive urge to water young turkeys that are not drinking water with a syringe for safety purposes (see warnings). Young turkeys need to be checked on 6 times a day at a minimum, so do not keep them if you cannot check on them this frequently. Older birds only need to be checked on about 1 or 2 times a day, for they tend to forage for insects, weeds, worms, and other tidbits they find in the yard throughout the day. However, like chicks, older birds may occasionally do naughty things like poop in their food and water, so be sure to clean out this stinky water as soon as possible!
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    Let mature birds run around outside together. Free range is recommended, however be sure that they are safe from most predators. If you must keep them confined, be sure they have at least 10 square feet for living area per bird for best results.
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    Leave your hens alone when they are laying. Right now, she needs some peace and quiet. She will not want to get up and get food and water, so be sure to leave some "easy access" water food and water nearby. She will eventually come out for food and water, and as I have told you before, I'll tell you again: resist your instinctive urge to water broody hens with a syringe. See warnings for details.

Method 2
After Hatching

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    Chicks (Poults) hatch after about 21 to 28 days, so you'll finally get an excellent gift for all that work! You'll have some living, breathing turkey chicks. Congratulations! You have just successfully bred and hatched turkeys. Don't neglect the hens or the tom, feed and water them regularly. Don't separate the chicks from their mother yet. You need a brooder kit now, a medium box where the chicks live with all their needs. The brooder box should be big enough to keep the chicks in, but small enough for the hen to come out at her own will. Put some shavings and a heat lamp (optional) in the brooder box. Don't put the food and water in for 2 days (see warnings.)


  • Don't feed your older turkeys just scratch grain. Not only is it quite boring to them, it can result in thin eggs, making your turkey eggs vulnerable to cracking due to the lack of calcium.
  • Don't remove the chicks from the box until they are the size of pullets.
  • If your hens are laying excessively soft-shelled eggs, try giving them some chicken egg shells or oyster shells. Their egg shells are soft because the hens don't have enough calcium in their diet, and whatever shells you have given to them will give them that.
  • When the eggs have been laid, flip them over every once in a while once you have put them in the incubator.


  • No matter what friends or employees at a feed store say, don't use any 60 watt bulb as a heat lamp, no matter how much money you might save. It is too cold; the animals need a 250 watt bulb. Chicks will die is you use anything below that.
  • Watch your chicks when around a heat lamp! If the turkeys are crowded under the lamp, they are cold! Check the wattage of the bulb just to be sure it's 250 watts, and if it is, either lower the heat lamp or add another one. If they are standing on the edges of the box to stay away from the heat lamp, they are too hot! Check the wattage to be sure it is not over 260 watts, remove any extra lamps, and higher one lamp.
  • Don't feed chicks food and water for 2 days. They are still digesting the yolk they ate when they were inside the shell.
  • Leave a broody hen alone when she is laying. She's very cranky at this time and will peck to protect her eggs, and turkey pecks are no fun. If you're still not sold with that, keep in mind that she may abandon her eggs if you handle her or her eggs.
  • Ignore your instinctive urge to water both old and young birds with a syringe! You can drown your birds, no matter how careful you are. If a chick isn't drinking water, chances are it is dying of an illness. It is understandable that you want to do the best for your turkey and try to keep it alive, but letting it pass on now is the best thing. If a hen is not drinking, chances are it is broody and wants to be a mommy. In this case, just leave your hen alone. She'll eventually get so thirsty that she can't ignore it and will drink some water.

Things You'll Need

  • A Hen
  • A Tom
  • Medium Chicken Coop
  • Medium Cage
  • Water Bottle, Food Dish, And Small Box
  • Incubator (optional)

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Farm Animals and Livestock