Anyone who has raised different breeds of poultry can relate with the fact that feeding them is not exactly easy.
Quality chicken feed is good for chickens however, it is not the best thing to feed to turkeys as it does not have the amount of nutrients that turkeys need.
Turkeys are bigger birds than chickens and as such they have a higher protein requirement.
Chickens usually require about 16% of protein in their feed while turkeys need 28%.
Feeding turkeys chicken feed will not necessarily harm them but it will not give them the necessary nutrients they need to grow.
What Is Chicken Feed Made Of?
Chicken feed is basically a combination of different foods mixed together to give a chicken the right amount of nutrients they need to grow and develop.
Chicken feed also has various ingredients depending on whether it is meant for chicks, layers or broilers.
Some of the major ingredients found in chicken feed include:
- Cereals such as wheat, sorghum, barley or corn. Those are standard in any chicken diet.
- Protein which the chickens need for them to grow. Most chicken sources include insects, mealworms, soybean, canola, bones and even feathers.
- Fats including pig or beef fat, palm oil and or sunflower oil are also included in chicken feed
- Minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium are very important macro nutrients which are regularly included in the feed.
- Vitamins, sources of vitamins A, B,C and K and always included in chicken feed.
All these ingredients work together to make chickens healthy.
Here is a comprehensive list of foods and treats to feed turkeys
What Are The Health Benefits Of Chicken Feed To Turkeys?
Carbohydrates are energy sources for turkeys and are usually the largest portion of a chicken feed diet.
Turkeys and other poultry birds get carbohydrates in the form of starches and sugars which they are able to digest well
Vitamins are essential nutrients for carrying out bodily functions, growth, and reproduction in turkeys.
A deficiency of one or more of these vitamins can lead to developmental conditions in the birds.
Minerals including micro and macro minerals are important in turkey development and growth.
In turkeys they are important for system functions such as blood cells formation, blood clotting, energy metabolism and also proper muscle function in the birds.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients required by turkeys and other poultry birds in general.
Proteins are complex compounds which when digested turn to amino acids.
These amino acids are then used for important body functions such as muscle and egg development, skin and feathers to mention a few.
Fats are made of smaller components known as fatty acids. Fatty acids help maintain cell membrane integrity and hormone synthesis.
Linoleic acid is an important fatty acid which helps in the absorption of vitamins into the body system of the turkeys.
How Often Should I Feed Them Chicken Feed?
Chicken feed should not be fed to turkeys on a regular basis except it is the only feed available at the moment.
If you cannot get turkey feed at stores close to your area then you can feed them gamebird feed as that has a similar nutrient composition to what turkeys need.
If you are raising turkeys and chickens together, it is best to provide them with individual feed.
Some poultry owners have reportedly fed their turkeys chicken feed and they had no problems.
If you are raising the turkeys for meat, then you want to place them on a quality turkey feed so they can be large enough to be sold or eaten when it’s sales time.
However if you are just raising the turkeys as pets and they are adults already, you might place them on the same diet with chickens giving them quality chicken feed.
Also check out this article I wrote on feeding turkeys with carrots
Can Baby Turkeys Eat Chicken Feed?
Turkeys require a higher protein content than chickens.
They are bigger birds and as such they need the high protein to develop and grow muscle quickly.
For turkey poults, a turkey starter with about 28 – 30% is required from the time they hatch till they are about eight weeks of age.
A chick starter feed usually contains about 18 – 20% of protein.
This means that there is a deficiency in protein levels if you feed them chicken feed. Feeding them chicken feed during this period means that their growth might be affected.
It isn’t a great idea to keep baby chicks and turkey poults together in the same space as they require different feed and space needs.
Turkeys who are not fed enough protein can develop angel wings amongst other developmental health issues. As such it is best to feed turkey poults on turkey starter feed.
Can Chicken Feed Be Used To Fatten Up Turkeys?
Chicken feed cannot be used to fatten up turkeys as it does not contain the right amount of nutrients to give them stronger muscle development.
The protein, minerals and vitamins in chicken feed are much lower than that found in Turkey feed.
If fattening up your turkey flock for sale is your goal then you should get them quality turkey or game bird feed.
You can also add in corn as it is known as a fattening agent. Mix it in with their feed or make a custom ration to your satisfaction. Your turkeys will get some meat soon enough.
Can Wild Turkeys Eat Chicken Feed?
Wild turkeys can eat chicken feed however it shouldn’t be fed to them on a regular basis.
Wild turkeys are way larger birds than chickens and as such their nutrients requirements are higher than those of chickens.
No harm would come to an adult wild turkey that is fed chicken feed on a regular basis but it is advisable to provide your turkeys with turkey feed or game bird feed to get the best results out of them.
Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Chicken Feed
Before feeding your turkeys chicken feed, have it in mind that chicken feed does not have all the nutritional requirements that the turkeys need.
Turkey poults should not be fed chicken under any circumstances as it will only lead to growth deficiencies and probable loss of the flock.
Depending on your purpose of rearing turkeys, you can feed them chicken feed if that is what is available.
If you are planning to raise them for meat and for sale, then chicken feed is a ‘must not’ as they won’t be able to develop and put on enough meat as they should.
However if they are just pets, then feeding them chicken feed would not harm them.
You can supplement their feed with other vegetables and fruits and even protein from time to time especially during winter.
How Can I Feed Chicken Feed To My Turkeys?
Some chicken feed comes in pellets while some come in grit form.
After purchasing your chicken feed from the store, you can spread around on the ground for your birds especially if they are free ranging.
You can also fill it in their feeders so they can easily eat it there without making much of a mess.
Chicken feed is great for chickens and quality feed can provide chickens with the nutritional benefits they need.
However feeding chicken feed to turkeys is another story entirely.
Because turkeys are larger than chickens, they need higher nutrients, especially protein, for their muscle development.
Turkey poults who are not raised on the proper turkey feed can develop angel wings.
If you are raising turkeys as pets then you can feed them chicken feed, however if you plant to raise them for meat, then the right quality turkey or gamebird feed that will give them all they need to grow and be fattened is required.