If you are contemplating keeping turkeys, then naturally you will want to know how big they will get. Besides, you need to think about the space you will need along with housing to accommodate them. Intrigued, I spent some time researching the typical size of this bird. I will be sharing all the information I found with you here today.
So, how big do turkeys get? Domestic Turkeys typically reach between 14-48 pounds (6.4-22 kg) in weight, with a total length of around 100-125 cm (3-4 feet), on average. Males are generally larger than females. Although it has been reported for domestic turkeys to weigh as much as 86 pounds (40 kg); this is however the exception rather than the norm. Wild turkeys are commonly half the size, falling within the 7-24 pound (3.2-11 kg) weight, 90-110cm length range.
Turkeys are in fact one of the largest living bird species; there are not many that can exceed the 40 kg these birds can reach!
It is also important to note that several different turkey breeds, with the most commonly kept as pets including: Broad-Breasted Whites, Bourbon Reds and Standard Bronzes.
Nevertheless, they are relatively low maintenance, social and can usually be housed with other chickens. Making them an entirely practical bird to take care of and raise.
Let us now take a closer look at the size differences between domestic and wild turkeys.
We will then explore how long you would expect one to reach their full adult size, along with some considerations relating to their size if you do decide to keep some!
How Big Domestic Turkeys Get?
Domestic Turkeys are typically twice the size of their wild counterparts. From there, males are again larger than the females:
- Male Domestic Turkeys: Average between 16-48 pounds (7.2-22 kg),
- Female Domestic Turkeys: Average between 14-32 pounds (6-15 kg).
Of course, these are just averages. Do not be surprised if a bird you later take in gets bigger than this!
Nevertheless, you can expect your domestic turkeys to grow to about 3-4 feet in length, which includes the tail.
How Big Do Wild Turkeys Get?
Wild Turkeys are generally half the size of their domestic counterparts. Again, males are still expected to be larger than the females:
- Male Wild Turkeys: Average between 8-24 pounds (3.6-11 kg),
- Female Wild Turkeys: Average between 7-16 pounds (3-7.5 kg).
There are several reasons why wild turkeys are smaller in size, but the main ones include: the genetic pool having more diversity, having less access to food (and special feed), and not having any hormonal influences via medicines or injections.
For these reasons wild turkeys are actually far more agile; being able to fly and even run up to speeds of 25mph!
Its important to remember that the domestication process has led to larger, heavier birds.
As natural selection is no longer influencing the next generation of birds and breeding becomes more selective; seeking out desirable traits such as size.
How Long Does It Take For A Turkey To Grow To Full Size
Turkeys typically take between 4-5 months to grow to full size. But the bigger the turkey, the longer it generally takes.
You also need to take into account the breed, as this can have an impact on how quickly they are known to grow.
Either way, in order for turkeys to grow and reach their full growth potential, they need to raised properly.
Ensuring the obtain sufficient protein and adequate nutrition is paramount.
Size Considerations When Keeping Turkeys
There is a lot to consider when keeping turkeys, especially due to their relatively significant size.
First and foremost, you should spend some time researching into the different breeds and varieties of this bird.
With over 10 species of standard turkey to choose from, its important that you understand the one in which you rear and set your expectations accordingly.
Nevertheless, two of the most important aspects of care for these birds is their housing and feed.
Let us now take a closer look at each one.
Space and Housing
How much space and housing you are going to require depends on how many turkeys you are looking to keep.
Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that 6 turkeys can live well and comfortably in a 8×6 foot outbuilding, such as a garden shed.
This is not sufficiently large enough to keep them inside at all times, but can keep them safe during the night.
Equally, you’ll need to consider appropriate ventilation, that is protected with mesh wire to prevent predators from trying to gain access. Foxes are perhaps the main ones to look out for.
Its important to set a regular schedule when putting your birds to bed, because otherwise they will look to find perch somewhere outside during the night.
Depending on your property, you may want to consider fencing an area for your turkeys.
Galvanized wire, such as this best seller on Amazon, is commonly used by many keepers. Fixing it up to at least 6 feet comes strongly advised.
Beyond this, you want to make sure that your turkeys have sufficient space to roam and forage for wellbeing.
During the winter, it also comes advised to house your birds. Just be sure to keep their enclosure clean, using dust-free shavings as litter.
Keeping bacteria and germs at bay is one of the best ways to prevent respiratory and fungal diseases running through your flock.
Feeding turkeys appropriately is very important for ensuring they reach their growth potential.
Turkeys are big boned birds and must be fed accordingly. For instance, they require more protein than chickens and therefore should not be given the same feed.
This is why you will likely find turkey feed that has a minimum of 25% protein.
Some keepers like to offer hard boiled eggs as a treat, and also as a way of improving the taste and desirability of the main feed.
Its also imperative that you feed your turkeys food in accordance with their size and age.
Young poults for example need to begin with a specialized poult feed; usuall descrived as ‘crumbs’.
At around the age of 4-5 weeks, they need to be carefully transitioned onto turkey rearer pellets, or turkey grower pellets.
Either way, both types of food are a little lower in protein and turkeys of 9 weeks and older should be moved onto grower pellets onward.
Another thing you will need to consider is the provision of grit. This needs to be provided weekly in order for your birds to thrive.
Seeking out a high quality poultry grit will be required here, with oyster shell to be avoided due to the fact that it can become lodged in the crop.
Regarding treats, consider fruits such as apple, vegetables such as cabbages and the occasional seed such as sunflower seeds.
Turkeys thoroughly enjoy grazing on grass, consuming insects that they find along with any other wild berry.
Just be careful of any poisonous plants that may be on your property!
For more on raising turkeys in your backyard, be sure to read my guide here.
Turkeys are large birds compared to many others. Compared to chickens, they are on average 3-5x the size (and sometimes more!)
For this reason, if you are considering keeping this bird, you do need to ensure you have sufficient space. The more room you can provide the better.
Just be sure that your turkeys are safe where they are kept. It may be that you require an enclosed cage and a roost, if the species you take on can fly.
Nevertheless, shelter is simply a must to protect your birds from the elements and the harsh weather.
By taking proper care of these birds, you can expect them to live up until the age of 10.
Thankfully, they are a pleasure to take care of, being generally friendly and social.