This is a continuation of yesterday’s article on turkey poults: The Life of a Turkey Poult. It covered: nest-building, breeding, incubation and birthing.
The First Weeks of Life
The first 2 weeks, the poults stay close to mom’s side — for warmth and food. They spend these
weeks on the ground, although the poults can fly by the end of their first week of life!
They are constantly learning at this time; they spend their days: feeding, sleeping, dusting, preening and peeping. By the end of the third week, the poults are able to roost in trees with their mother.
Cold weather can delay the process of moving to the trees. By the time they roost in trees, they have a large vocabulary.
A Poult’s Diet Changes
In the early days, poults need a steady diet of protein: beetles, grasshoppers and other insects. However, as they are out looking for these in the open, they become food for hawks and other predators. Thus, they have to balance their hunger with their fear of being eaten!
During the spring and summer months, poults spend most of their time feeding – to fuel the rapid growth of their bodies. Besides insects, they eat grasses, leaves, plants, berries and agricultural crops.
Because we make scratching noises when we are calling turkeys, we assume they only eat things below them. However, they also stretch to nab berries overhead and even jump to snatch a morsel from a low-hanging branch.
These birds use their scratching skills year-round, but especially in the fall and winter months.
As the months roll into autumn, the numbers of insects and vegetation sources decreases, leaving the poults to start feeding on acorns and other mast.*
As the poults grow into jakes and jennies, their diet changes from almost all insects to: 10% insects and 90% vegetation.
The Pecking Order
Over the course of their lives, their rank in the pecking order of their flock may change.
At the end of their first year, the jakes leave their mothers and follow the older males or form new flocks of young jakes. Jennies will stay with their mothers, learning skills they will need as hens.
* mast = ‘nuts of forest trees used as feed….” taken from the Free Online Dictionary
This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com