Turkeys are game birds who are fun to raise for their meat, egg and character.
Apart from their usual feed, you might want to spruce up your turkey’s diet and you might be wondering if it is okay to feed them apples.
Turkeys can eat apples just like most fruits on their lists. Not only is it delicious, it is nutrient packed and super healthy for them. The saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away also applies to the turkeys.
Today we will discuss the health benefits of apples to turkeys, how often they should have apples amongst other questions.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Apples To Turkeys?
Apples are an excellent source of nutrients for turkeys and some of these health benefits include:
Dietary fibre is an important nutrient found in many foods and fruits.
Apples are a great source of fiber which helps to complete and speed up the digestive process of your turkeys.
Fibre also contains prebiotics which help to aid the growth of good bacteria in the stomach.
Apples are rich in vitamins especially vitamins A and C. Vitamin C is quite important and plays a role in protecting certain aspects of heart health.
Vitamin C may also help to strengthen the immune system and protect the body from infections and diseases.
Both vitamin A and C help to protect the immune system, boost body repair and cell growth. Feeding apples to your turkeys regularly will help ensure they are fit healthily.
Apples are high in antioxidants such as quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid.
Apples have been found to have extremely high antioxidant activity which help to inhibit cancer cell growth, to reduce lipid rancidity, and to lower cholesterol.
This is the one of the reasons why the popular saying goes ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.
This has also been supported by laboratory research and studies.
An apple contains about 4% of an adult human’s potassium needs and more than enough for your turkey.
Potassium is an important mineral which is not readily found in many food sources.
Potassium in conjunction with other minerals is required for bone development and healthy performance, eggshell and chick quality and muscle strength.
Carbohydrates as we all know are the major food sources of energy for all life sources.
One apple provides a carbohydrate serving of about 95 grams for your turkeys and contributes to their daily energy needs.
Carbohydrates help to fuel your turkeys with a quick source of energy throughout the whole day and is an important fuel course for their cells.
Check out this complete list of foods that turkeys can eat
How Often Should I Feed Them Apples?
Turkeys like apples and many turkey owners have reported their turkeys eating off apples from the trees.
One such report claimed the turkeys flew against the tree to make the apples drop and then ate them.
If you do not have apple trees planted you can always buy apples from the store and feed them.
Giving them apples is a healthy way of treating them and also giving them something different to eat asides from their feed.
It is important for you to not feed them apples everyday or make it their basic diet no matter how much they seem to love apples.
Apples should form about 5% of their diet. Although apples are rich in fiber and carbohydrates, they are very low in protein.
Turkeys on the other hand require a high protein diet and as such apples would not provide them with all the necessary nutrients they need to grow.
Feeding apples should be restricted to about once or twice a week and should be mixed in with other treats to get the best results.
Can Baby Turkeys Eat Apples?
Baby turkeys or poults can eat apples however this is until they have reached a certain age.
From birth, poults are usually very fragile and they require a high amount of protein level in their feed (about 28%) to grow, develop healthy bones and muscles and survive.
Turkey owners are always advised to start their poults out on a turkey starter diet. This contains all the nutrients, especially protein that they require.
In the absence of turkey starter feed, it is advisable to feed the poults game bird starter.
Supplements such as apples and other vegetables and fruits can begin to come in between 6 to 8 weeks old.
At this point, the turkeys have acquired enough grit to digest their food successfully.
Apples should be thoroughly washed and cut into tiny pieces to enable the pouls eat successfully.
You can start out with feeding them apples twice a month.
Do Wild Turkeys Eat Apples?
Wild turkeys are quite different from their domesticated cousins.
Wild turkeys are inherently known for their deep brown and black plumage while the domesticated guys are most often white in color.
They are a North American bird that was once almost hunted into extinction before laws were enacted to protect them.
Wild turkeys are quite known for eating apples. Most often wild turkeys are seen in the summer around apple trees either eating fallen apples or trying to make apples drop.
Apart from acorns, hickories and berries; apples are another great way of attracting wild turkeys to your backyard.
Also check out this article I wrote on can turkeys eat acorns
Can Turkeys Eat Apple Seeds?
Apples are fruits that have a lot of nutritional benefits for turkeys such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Apple seeds, on the other hand, contain a plant compound called amygdalin, which can be toxic to both humans and turkeys when ingested in large amounts.
Amygdalin is a chemical defense mechanism found in seeds.
When a seed is intact, it is harmless; however, when a seed is chewed or otherwise damaged, the amygdalin degrades into hydrogen cyanide.
In high doses, this is extremely poisonous and even lethal.
As such you should be careful about apple seeds. Remove them carefully from the apples before them to the turkeys.
Although when ingested in small quantities, it is unlikely to cause any problems, it is rather better to stay careful.
Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Apples
Apples are an amazing treat for your turkeys. It is not only sweet and delicious, it is packed with amazing health benefits for the birds.
Before feeding your turkeys apples, it is important that you try to incorporate it into their feeding schedule.
The turkey’s basic diet should remain their turkey or gamebird feed. Apples and other vegetables are to remain solely as supplements for the birds.
You can always follow the rule of thumb of 90/10 for them with 90% of their food source being their basic feed while the rest is made up of healthy treats like apples and other vegetables.
If you are feeding poults apples remember to let them be about 6 to 8 weeks old before feeding them and ensure you give them bite sizes that they can easily swallow.
Also, remove the seeds carefully from the apple core before serving them to the turkeys.
This is to avoid cyanide poison and keep your birds healthy.
How Can I Feed Apples To My Turkeys?
There are different ways to prepare apples for your turkeys and I will be sharing a few recipes here:
- Stuffed Apples
For this recipe you require the following
- 3 or 4 apples
- ½ natural unsalted peanut butter
- ½ cup unsalted almonds
- ½ cup dry cranberries
- Raisins, sunflowers or any other nuts of your choice
To make this recipe, wash the apples and core them, leaving the bottoms intact.
In a small bowl, grind the almonds in a coffee grinder or food processor and combine with the remaining ingredients. Fill each apple. The turkeys will enjoy this treat.
If you feed them something sticky like peanut butter, make sure to give them plenty of fresh water.
- Hanging Apples
To do this, simply wash and core your apples and then hang on twine for your turkeys to peck at for their fun and enjoyment. Always remove the seeds carefully to avoid cyanide poison.
- Apple Garlands
To make apple garlands, thread diced apples, zucchini, and unsalted popcorn into garlands to hang in the run using butcher’s twine.
For the turkeys, you can also string cranberries, grapes, radishes, or strawberries. This serves as a great and healthy treat for them.
Apples are quite a great treat to feed your turkeys.
They are healthy and nutrient packed, and have a lot of nutritional value which includes antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates.
Turkeys should be fed apples in moderation and it should not take over their main feed.
As such, you can restrict feeding them to about once or twice a week.
Baby turkeys also known as poults can be fed apples but it should not be fed to them till they are about 8 weeks old.
You can switch up the way you feed your turkeys apples with various recipes that have been outlined in this post.