What Are Baby Turkeys Called?

What Are Baby Turkeys Called

Baby turkeys are incredibly soft, sensitive, and innocent birds. If you are a bird lover, you might ask some questions like “What are baby turkeys called?” or “How can I properly take care of these fragile creatures?”.

This article will tell you more about some popular names of baby turkeys and share some important advice on raising and caring for them.

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What Are Baby Turkeys Called?

Chick, poult, and turkeyling are three common names to call a baby turkey less than 4 weeks old.

A baby wild turkey is called “chick”, while “poult” and “turkeyling” are often used to call a domestic one in poultry. However, “chick” is the most common name for baby turkeys because these young creatures look lovely like chicks.

Read our related article, What is a Group of Baby Quail Called? See how to refer to groups of quail and discover intriguing facts about these beautiful birds!

baby turkey

Different Names Of Grown Turkeys

Now you know the answer to the question “What are baby turkeys called?”. How about adult turkeys? What do people call them?

A juvenile male wild turkey is called “jake”, while a juvenile female one is called “jenny”.

Turkeys’ names also change when they reach adulthood. An adult male turkey is called “tom” or “gobbler”, while an adult female one is called “hen”.

You can distinguish a jake and a tom by their tail feather and their beard (a cluster of hair-like feathers growing from the middle of a turkey’s breast).

The tail feathers of a tom are at the same length, while the tail feathers of a jake are longer in the middle. Besides, an adult has much longer bread than a juvenile.

turkey jake

Read our related article on How to Raise Turkeys and Chickens Together for tips on raising poultry!

What Do Baby Turkeys Eat?

Adult turkeys are omnivorous creatures, meaning that they can eat a wide variety of food. But in their childhood, they should be provided with appropriate food with caution to maintain their optimum growth.

Starter food

Starter food for baby turkeys is higher in protein than that of baby chickens.

The starter food of young turkeys at their first 8 weeks old should contain an average protein intake of 28%. After that, they can switch to a turkey grower food that contains 20-21% protein.

Since the purpose of starter food is to support baby turkey’s rapid growth, you should frequently check their weight and body condition. An insufficient daily diet can lead to a lack of nutrition. Conversely, a high protein consumption with no proper daily intake can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Thus, you should feed large turkey breeds with smaller meals.

Insoluble grit

grit for baby turkeys

As baby chicks have no teeth, they need appropriate insoluble grit to grind down any food that is not their specialized starter food.

You should not let chicks, especially large breeds, use too much grit. The grit should also not contain oyster shells or anything that contains a high level of calcium. The overdose of calcium can lead to serious health issues in chicks.


turkey drink water

Poults should always be accessible to fresh and clean lukewarm water. Apart from water quality, you should ensure that they drink water in a safe container.

A baby chick fountain is the best water container to avoid dirt and insects from getting into their water bowl. The fountain also prevents them from getting wet or drowning in the water.

If you can’t find a fountain, you can choose a shallow dish and fill it with large pebbles or rocks that chicks can’t swallow. You can also place a towel on an elevated surface in the bowl.

By doing that, chicks can still have access to a small amount of water without drowning risk or throwing food and bedding into the bowl.

Read More: How to Care for Quail Babies. Caring for quail chicks may seem hard, but that’s exactly why we share what you need to know about caring for quail chicks in this guide!

Caring & Raising Baby Turkeys

Baby turkeys are vulnerable to the outer environment and need special care to let them grow happily and healthily. Below are some essential criteria when taking care of and raising them.

Heat sources

For poults, a heat source is always required. While baby wild turkeys have the natural heat from their mothers, chicks in poultry live without their mothers. Therefore, you should find an artificial heat source to keep them warm and comfortable.

heat lamp for baby turkeys

There are four options for a supplement heat source: heat lamps, ceramic bulbs heat lamps, radiant heaters, and Snuggle Safe microwaveable heat discs.

  • Heat lamps: Are not recommended to take care of chicks since they can result in some severe risks. First, heat lamps can cause a fire in the turkey’s housing. Second, some glass bulb lamps might be coated with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), which can cause toxic fumes if heated at a higher temperature.
  • Ceramic bulb heat lamps: These lamps are safer than PTFE coat bulbs, provided that you should set them up outside their housing and at a distance of 18+ inches from flammable materials to avoid fire and burn.
  • Radiant heaters: A radiant heater is considered safe for baby turkeys, such as a radiant heat panel or radiant heat lamp.
  • Snuggle Safe microwaveable heat discs: This heat source requires no electricity and doesn’t cause any fire risk. However, you should cover the discs with a cover/blanket/towel and put them close enough to provide appropriate warmth to the chicks.

For any of the four above heating options, you should ensure that the housing is spacious enough so that chicks can access the heat source when they want or get away from it when they need to.

In addition, food and drink should be placed near the heat source, but not under it, to let the poults enjoy their meals in the best comfort condition.

Some notices:

  • Frequently check turkey’s behavior so as not to overheat them when the weather gets warmer. They will gather in a group under the heat source if they are too cold. On the contrary, they will spread out to the edge to get away from the heat source if they feel too hot.
  • You should set the housing’s temperature at 95oF for newborn chicks, then decrease the temperature to 5oF per week until they reach 5-6 weeks old.

A regular incandescent light bulb can provide enough warmth for all chicks if you live in a warm and sunny area.

Living spaces & Bedding

turkey poults living space

Chicks should live in a clean, dry environment with no drafts and good ventilation to maintain their most satisfactory physical development. The housing should be safe and secure enough to protect these fragile creatures from their predators.

Grass or soft bedding is recommended to create a warm and comfortable living space for chicks. However, you should avoid cedar wood shavings since they can cause serious respiratory problems.

Also, you shouldn’t provide them tiny shavings in their first week since they can swallow the shavings.  Moreover, to create a non-slip floor, use some rubber drawer liners at the bottom of their housing.

Depending on the turkey breeds, you can start providing short roosts when the chicks reach 3 weeks old. Some turkey breeders use straws for bedding. Yet, you should be aware that this bedding type is not an ideal choice for all living spaces since it can cause aspergillosis in some circumstances.

Some notices for large turkey breeds:

  • Set up a lower or wider roosting area. Otherwise, they can be vulnerable or injured if jumping from a considerable height as they grow.
  • Provide deeper bedding but not too deep to cause difficulties walking.

When the chicks are under 6 weeks old, you can only introduce them to the outdoor environment with supervision on warm and calm days. However, chicks should be back in their indoor living space at the end of the day or in rainy, stormy, or extremely hot or cold days.

Social considerations

Chicks need to communicate with other chicks to learn social skills from their society. Later, you can introduce or merge them into an existing turkey flock or build a new flock.

However, if you care for a sick poult, make sure that you feed it properly and follow the quarantine procedure. You shouldn’t place them in a flock because it could spread disease.

Even when the chick is staying alone in its quarantine period, it should stay with a stuffed animal to not feel so lonely.

A group of baby turkeys without their mothers can miss some critical time of development with their parents. Therefore, they should take special care in their social skill development.


1. Why are young male turkeys called jakes?

Ben Franklin named adult male turkeys “toms” after Thomas Jefferson, shortened to “tom” as turkeys are not cats. At their teenage age, young male turkeys are known as “jakes,” while juvenile female turkeys are known as “jennies”.

2. Why are baby turkeys called poults?

Baby turkeys raised in the hatcheries are called “poult”. Poultry breeders often use this term in commercial poultry farms.

3. How long do baby turkeys stay with their mother?

Wild baby turkeys can’t fly and stay protected by their mothers during their first 4 weeks of life. When chicks have finished learning how to find food and navigate their safety zone, they can leave their mothers and start living independently in nature.

Final Words 

In-depth knowledge of baby turkeys’ natural habitats is essential. It gives you more confidence and valuable information to raise healthy turkeys from their first week old until adulthood. So, what do you call a baby turkey? A chick or a poult?

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