Caring for a Pet Turkey

turkey care sheet

Aside from being a popular Thanksgiving dinner, turkeys are popular pets too. In fact, a white turkey was among the first pets to graze the White House lawn when Abraham Lincoln was the president. Today, however, you cannot have the farm animal as pet easily. You must either be living in a farm or have a wide lawn in the suburb to raise a large farm animal as a turkey.

Why a Pet Turkey

turkey as pet

If turkeys need space to live healthy and happy, why should you want a pet turkey to begin with? You want turkeys as pets because a male turkey is like a miniature version of a peacock. A turkey cock will make an awesome living figurine in your lawn. And, turkey hens can provide you fresh, organic poultry egg, which can substitute your need for chicken eggs. But don’t trust that you can have ready reserve turkey for Thanksgiving; people who have pet turkeys almost always pardon the bird on every Thanksgiving dinner.

So if you have the space and the desire to have a large bird as pet, consider a turkey.

Housing a Pet Turkey

turkey barn

During summer, turkeys need their time out and about in a fenced yard. A 6 feet fence should be enough to keep domestic turkeys from jumping over. The yard should measure 90 sq. ft. if you have a turkey cock and a turkey hen; that’s about the minimum area for two turkeys. For their shelter, a mini barn or a small building with windows and high roof is ideal. Keep the shelter at room temperature by adding heat lamps during winter, and use wood shavings (not sawdust) as coop bedding. The less popular but comfortable grass hay will do too. Don’t use wood planks as flooring material as it will make cleaning difficult.

Feeding a Pet Turkey

feeding turkeys

Feeding turkeys isn’t a problem at all. The animal will eat anything you give them even your leftovers if you want to. Those vegetables in your fridge that you don’t know what to do about… give those to your turkeys. They can also eat overripe fruits and fruit and vegetable peelings. Poultry pellets or mash that you can buy from poultry farm supply stores should be adult turkeys main diet, however.* To keep everything organic, ask the store technician to give you only un-medicated feeds for your birds. For treats, give your turkeys mealworms, crickets, feed beetles, etc., which you can buy from pet supply stores. And if you don’t have loose sand or fine gravel on your yard, you have to provide a sand box in your turkey shelter aside from constant clean water. Birds need sand to properly digest their food.

Common Pet Turkey Disease

common pet turkey disease

Unlike other pet birds, turkeys are very susceptible to blackhead disease. Chickens and wild birds carry the causal protozoa, which do not affect them, but affect turkeys by infecting the liver causing bluish to dark head. To prevent blackhead disease, ensure proper hygiene and prevent other poultry or wild birds from coming in contact with your turkey.

Caution with a Pet Turkey

pet turkey behavior

A word of caution regarding your pet turkeys: don’t let them roam in your garden. Turkeys are very destructive to plants eating anything green and colorful they’ll see in your garden. So don’t let them loose if you don’t want your plants mowed to bare roots.

Permit to Raise Pet Turkey

exotic pet permit

Before you shop for pet turkeys online, remember that keeping farm animals as pets is regulated in some districts. So call your local Department of Agriculture to obtain the necessary permit to raise your big birds.

* See other post on how to raise baby turkeys




9 Responses to “Caring for a Pet Turkey”

  1. ismail said:

    why say this disease Blackhead?

  2. Dwayne blackston said:

    Can you trim the wings of a turkey to keep it from jumping up on a four foot fence?that’s what I do to my chickens. I have two turkeys that are two months old and they want to jump up on my fence when I let them out of their cage.

  3. alexandra said:

    Hi, I have 2 lovely American type turkeys (they are named Will & Kate born the same day as Royal Wedding!), in my back garden in a run, but as they are growing bigger I wonder whether I can give them free range as I have a 6′ wall surround, they have dark feathers and need advice as to whether I need to clip their wings, the male is large of course and more concerned about smaller female? Thx

  4. Karmen said:

    I have a pet turkey and he is about 3-4 years old. He is very large and he has started having a very hard time walking. When he goes to get up he has to flap his wings to get up and then he doesn’t want to walk. He is very very large. Larger then any turkey I have ever seen. Any suggestions???

  5. donner said:

    how do you tell how old a turkey is? I have a male my husband got me,the people said he was young but I think he older cause his feet have like thick pads on them

  6. jill said:

    We have a wild tom and domistion white female turkey, both have been living together in a large pen with access to a fenced in outside are since they were babies. They are about 1 year old now, and I noticed today the female seems to have a bad cut under her wing, her feathers all look great, only reason I noticed is I watch them alot and she spread her wings and I noticed. What should I do?

  7. Caryn said:

    Our turkey lost his voice over a year ago. We thought he might have a respiratory infection or may have just gobbled too much but his voice has been gone for over a year now and he seems totally fine other wise. He still gobbles but no sound comes out. Any thought s as to why this is happening?

  8. lee smith said:

    I am looking for a turkey for a pet , do you know where a can get one near Portsmouth (UK)

  9. Margo Dekker said:

    Hi I hope you can help me our large male turkey injured his leg some time ago trying to fly onto the 2 meter wall he roosts on at night he has now developed a limp and we wanted to know if we could give him a small dose of paracetamol or asprin. Regards Margo


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