What Is A Group Of Turkeys Called?

what is a group of turkey called

What is a group of turkeys called? Is it “a flock” (like chickens), “ a brace” (like ducks), or “a gaggle” (like geese)?

Turkeys are kingly birds of the peacock genre. They are popularly raised on a large scale in the U.S. Since turkey meat is tender and delicious, it is often purchased to make barbeque.

In this article, let’s learn about the common names for a group of these birds and the reasons behind these names.

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What Is A Group Of Turkeys Called?

A rafter of turkeys and a gang of turkeys are the two most common names for a group of turkeys.

Some bird lovers called “flock” for commercial turkeys and “rafter” for wild turkeys. However, this name depends on whether you are talking about a group of wild turkeys or poultry breeding turkey. Below are some most collective nouns for turkeys.

rafter of turkeys


Rafter (means stick together in English) is the official name for a group of domestic and poultry turkeys, especially US poultry turkey breeders. Yet, you can’t use this name for wild turkey species.


People who don’t know much about turkeys use the word “gang” (the abbreviation for “gangster” in English) to describe a group of this bird with more than 20 heads. When many turkeys come together, they don’t fear humans at all like a group of gangsters.


Flock is a typical English noun representing almost all flying or non-flying bird groups that live, fly, and eat together.

Flock isn’t only specifically to call birds. It can also be used for a collection of people or a group of mammals, like “a flock of sheep” or “a flock of goats”.

So, Why “A Rafter”?

From their perching behavior

The term “rafter” originates from a weird habit of turkeys – their perching behavior.

During the early days of the European occupation of North America, turkeys were seen perching on construction rafters to nestle or hide from their predators. The European workers then used the term “rafter” to call any turkey groups with this behavior.

This term has become popular over time. Today, a group of turkeys is called a rafter of turkeys.

What does “rafter” mean?

According to another source, the name “rafter” from three Greek and Arabic words:

  • Raphtine (Greek) means to stitch together
  • TaPHar (Greek) means to sew together
  • Raff (Arabic) relates to “the roof”, meaning a united enclosure or shelter for sheep

The earlier words mention the word “rhapsody”, meaning a gathering of something. In comparison, the latest word of “rafter” combines the meaning of all these above words, representing a gathering of beams.

So, why is a group of turkeys called a rafter? Rafter is also an appropriate way to call a group of turkeys because it illustrates their behavior of running in an interweave and crisscross pattern to confuse people or their predators when being chased.

From an ancient phrase

Like the second theory, the term “rafter” might relate to an old expression “to the rafters,” meaning the over-excitement or the loss of control in an animal or person’s behavior.

“To the rafters” also illustrates the turkey’s panic behavior when being hunted by people or their predators. Therefore, the term “rafter” has now been used widely to call a group of turkeys.

Incorrect Terms To Call A Group Of Turkeys

Due to their lack of knowledge, sometimes people miscall a group of turkeys like “gaggle” or “gooble”.

Gaggle is a term to refer to a group of geese, not turkeys. Geese often make gagging sounds, so they are called ‘gaggle.’

Gooble is a meaningless word with no history story or no relationship in context with turkeys.

Read more: Geese vs Duck – What is the difference?

Interesting Facts About Turkeys

Different names for individual turkey

baby turkey

Apart from the general term “rafter”, there are some specific terms to call turkeys in their life cycle.

For example:

  • A newborn turkey is called “a chick” or “a nestling”;
  • As long as the turkey is less than one year old, he is called “a poult”;
  • A juvenile female turkey is called “jenny”. When this turkey reaches her adulthood, she is called “a hen”;
  • A juvenile male older than a year old is called “jake”. Besides, an adult male turkey with a weight of around 18-22 pounds is called “a tom” or “a gobbler”.

Toms & hens have different shapes of scat

A hen (or a female turkey) has a cone-shaped scat, while a tom (or a male turkey) has a j-shaped scat. You can also use this difference to distinguish between a male turkey and a female turkey.

They can fly

Wild turkeys can fly at a maximum speed of approximately 55 miles per hour. However, domestic turkeys weigh heavier to provide more meat, so they can’t fly.

They are good runners

Wild turkeys are excellent runners. They have strong legs and can run up to 25 miles per hour.

There are 7 wild turkey subspecies

Wild turkeys are divided into 5 subspecies depending on their subtle plumages and ranges, including Osceola, Rio Grande, Eastern, Merriam’s, and Goulds. Besides, in some classifications, there are also the South Mexican turkeys as the sixth turkey subspecies.

The Ocellated turkey is a separated type, which doesn’t look similar to other wild turkey subspecies. It has bolder and brighter feathers than the remaining ones and different wattles.

Female turkeys raise their babies, but male ones

Precocial, or just hatched wild turkeys, are born with feathers and can protect themselves quickly. Within 24 hours after being born, they will leave the nest to find food with their mothers.

Female turkeys take the primary role in raising chicks. Oppositely, male turkeys contribute nothing to raising their kids.

They are omnivorous

turkeys eat grass

Since turkeys are omnivorous species, they can eat many types of food. However, there are some differences in the diet of wild turkeys and domestic turkeys.

Wild turkeys (for example, bush turkeys) have a wide-ranging diet. Their foods range from grass, grains, insects, berries, nuts, and small reptiles.

Domestic turkeys have more limitations in their diet. They are often fed specialized food pellets to balance their nutrition and finest growth. Sometimes, they may also have treats like vegetable scraps or leafy greens.

Related Questions

1. What is a group of baby turkeys called?

The official term for a group of domestic baby turkeys is “poults”. For wild and non-domesticated young turkeys, you might call them “chicks” because they are lovely, just like little chickens.

2. How many turkeys make a rafter?

Rafter is a technical term to call a big group of turkeys. A rafter can consist of two to 40 turkeys. This number includes hens and their chicks or other females and male parties.

Final Words 

For bird lovers, knowing what a group of turkeys is called is quite interesting. After reading this article, you have some extra information on all popular names for a collection of turkeys, their meanings, and some fun facts on this magnificent creature. If you find this article helpful, please share it with your friends and family.

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