25 Things Turkeys Can Eat and 7 Things They Cannot

If you own any kind of animals, livestock or not, you probably already know that each of them has a specific diet if you want them to enjoy optimal health.

girl petting turkeys

Raising turkeys is no different, but what most people don’t know is just how varied a turkey’s diet can be. Turkeys are omnivores, and they eat all kinds of plant and animal matter naturally.

However, as varied as their diet is, they can’t eat quite everything, and some things are bad for them.

Keep reading, and I’ll tell you about the things that turkeys can eat, and a few things that they never should…

25 Things That You Can Feed Your Turkeys

1. Bananas

Bananas are safe and nutritious for domestic turkeys when fed in moderation.

They are an excellent source of essential nutrients like potassium, which helps maintain electrolyte balance and nerve function.

Additionally, bananas are rich in vitamin B6, a crucial nutrient that supports brain health and reduces inflammation.

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be included in your turkey’s diet but only on a limited basis due to their high acidity and juiciness, which can cause digestive upset in birds.

Despite this, tomatoes offer significant nutritional benefits. They’re a good source of vitamins A and C, both important for immune system health.

Plus, they contain lycopene, an antioxidant that helps combat harmful free radicals. Remember; never feed the leaves or vines of tomatoes to turkeys as they can be toxic! More on that in the next section.

3. Melons

Many kinds of melons are a hydrating treat for domestic turkeys, specifically watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe. All are also a great source of nutrition.

Most contain a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, which support immune health. Feed sparingly, as they are juicy and sugary. A few servings a week will do nicely!

4. Seeds

Pretty much all common seeds fed to birds, such as sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, are a healthy addition to a turkey’s diet.

All provide beneficial fats and proteins which are essential for growth and development. Seeds are also rich in minerals and powerful antioxidants, especially magnesium.

However, apple seeds, peach pits, and the like should never be fed to turkeys because they contain toxic cyanide precursor compounds.

5. Apples

Apple chunks are safe and beneficial for turkeys to eat.

They’re packed with vitamins and the skins contain needed minerals, which boost immune health, and dietary fiber, which aids digestion. As mentioned above, always remove the seeds!

6. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is an excellent food choice for turkeys! Pumpkin provides a wealth of nutritional benefits, including lots of vitamin A, C, and E.

Additionally, pumpkin is rich in dietary fiber, promoting healthy digestion, without being too moist or sugary. Turkeys love it, and it is seriously good for them.

Help your turkeys out by busting it open for them so they can get at the flesh easier.

7. Strawberries

Strawberries are a safe and nutritious treat for turkeys, but shouldn’t be a mainstay of their diet.

They are rich in vitamin C, which supports immune health, and manganese, a mineral that aids in bone formation and metabolism regulation.

Like many other berries, strawberries also have antioxidants that help protect against cellular degradation in turkeys.

8. Carrots

Carrots can be a great addition to a turkey’s diet. They are a superb source of vitamin A, which is essential for eye and nervous system health.

Carrots also provide B-complex vitamins that support all facets of metabolic function.

Make sure to finely chop or grate carrots, or else cook them gently: large, raw carrot pieces can be tough for turkeys to eat and digest.

9. Raisins

Raisins are safe for domestic turkeys, but should only be fed rarely as a treat. While they may be small, raisins have way too much sugar to be a regular part of a turkey’s diet.

They do have lots of needed nutrients, but that does not offset the sugar content.

10. Grapes

Grapes, like raisins, can be a sweet treat for turkeys when fed in moderation and are a better choice all around.

They offer vitamins and antioxidants, and also a little moisture, but their high sugar content is still problematic and will cause crop and gizzard issues if overfed.

For smaller or baby turkeys, ensure grapes are seedless or have the seeds removed to prevent choking.

11. Celery

Hardly a nutritionally barren veggie that haters claim, celery is low-calorie, safe, and beneficial for turkeys.

It provides many essential vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, all of which greatly benefit a turkey’s overall health.

12. Corn

Turkeys love corn! And not only is it tasty but also a substantial source of energy and nutrients that help support the overall health of your turkey.

The carbohydrates in corn provide much-needed energy, especially during cold weather, making it a mainstay warming feed.

13. Lettuce

Lettuce is a safe and nutritious food for turkeys, though one you should still feed sparingly since it has a tendency to cause diarrhea.

Good lettuce varieties like Bibb and butterhead contain vitamin A and vitamin K, which aid eye health and blood clotting respectively.

In addition to these vitamins, lettuce also has folate which supports cell function and tissue growth.

14. Pineapple

Although very sweet and juicy, pineapple is a tropical treat that turkeys can enjoy in moderation.

Pineapple is a known immune system booster, and turkeys love it. Save this one for hot days when your birds need some help coping with the heat.

15. Potatoes

When cooked and plain, potatoes are safe and nutritious for turkeys. Raw potatoes, and especially green potatoes, are toxic due to their solanine content.

Cooked potatoes provide turkeys with plenty of calories in the form of carbs and vitamins and minerals aplenty.

16. Peaches

Juicy, perfect peaches are a delectable supplement for turkeys, but not a regular part of their diet.

Peaches have lots of vitamin A and C, both essential for immune health and good vision.

Additionally, the compounds present in peaches support healthy digestion. Be sure to remove and discard the pit. Not only is it too hard, but it is toxic if your turkeys eat it!

17. Rice

Cooked rice is a safe and beneficial food for turkeys that can bulk up other foods. It’s a good source of carbohydrates and minerals, both providing necessary energy for your turkey.

Also, you can give your turkeys uncooked rice as a treat or enrichment food: it is harder to digest, but it won’t make them explode like the urban legends claim!

18. Kale

Kale is an excellent food choice for turkeys, known for its extremely high nutritional value.

It provides tons of vitamins A, C, and K, which support nervous system tissues, immune system health, and bone growth and repair, respectively.

Additionally, kale is a great source of calcium and iron. However, kale, like many brassica plants, is high in oxalates which can interfere with mineral absorption in turkeys and other birds. Feed sparingly as part of a whole diet.

19. Ticks

Yes, turkeys can, in fact, eat ticks and other insect parasites. Turkeys naturally consume ticks by the cartload in the wild, making them an entirely safe and familiar food source – though a food source that can bite your turkeys back!

Assuming you’re keeping an eye out for infestations, ticks can help diversify the diet of your domestic turkey, mimicking their natural feeding habits.

And you will benefit from your turkeys eradicating the little bloodsuckers from your property.

20. Acorns

Acorns won’t hurt your turkeys unless they’re eating tons of them. Wild turkeys often consume acorns in the fall, making another “wild” food for your domestic turkey.

However, it’s important to note that acorns shouldn’t be the main part of their diet, and fed in moderation: excess acorn consumption can make turkeys sick from tannin toxicity.

21. Chicken Feed

Chicken feed can be given to turkeys as incidental feed or in moderation as a holdover until you can get them the right stuff.

But remember that chicken feed is not nutritionally optimized or complete for turkeys.

Turkeys need a completely different nutrient profile compared to chickens in order to thrive, so too much chicken feed could cause problems…

22. Bread

Bread is basically junk food for turkeys, but is safe so long as it’s only given to them in small quantities occasionally.

Giving turkeys too much bread will make them sick and cause diarrhea or crop issues, so don’t make a habit of it!

23. Snakes

Turkeys are naturally omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and animals, including many reptiles, snakes included!

Feeding your turkey snake meat is safe, as long as the snake is fresh and free of disease. And, of course, so long as it isn’t alive and able to harm your birds!

Don’t take a chance with any unknown, live snake, even though turkeys are fairly adept at dispatching them.

24. Meat

Other kinds of fresh, clean, and nutritious meat can be a beneficial part of a turkey’s diet in limited quantities. It offers essential animal protein and many other nutrients.

However, it’s crucial that meat is only a part of a balanced diet, not the sole component: turkeys aren’t strict carnivores!

Over-reliance on meat can easily lead to devastating nutritional imbalances for turkeys.

25. Insects

All kinds of insects, and I mean all kinds, are a natural part of a turkey’s diet, both in the wild and in domestic settings.

Turkeys can safely consume a wide variety of, which provide protein and other essential nutrients.

If you let your birds free-range, they will nibble on bugs all day long if they can spot or catch them.

26. Worms

Worms are yet another natural food source for turkeys in the wild. In domestic settings, mealworms are one of their favorites and a popular treat with owners.

But all kinds of worms are safe for turkeys to eat and can contribute to a balanced diet.

7 Things That You Cannot Feed Your Turkeys

1. Allium-genus Plants

Allium is a genus of plants that includes onions, garlic, leeks, and chives. These plants contain thiosulphate compounds which can, potentially, be dangerous to turkeys.

High thiosulphate concentrations can damage to red blood cells, leading to a condition known as hemolytic anemia. This condition can cause weakness, lethargy, and in severe cases, death.

However, garlic is commonly used as a vermifuge (worm treatment) for poultry, including turkeys, and many owners report that their birds eat allium plants with no issues, so this one is contentious.

2. Chocolate

Chocolate is a well-known toxin for many animals, and turkeys are no exception. The main culprits in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine, both of which are very harmful to them.

Eating chocolate, or any cocoa, results in elevated heart rate and serous digestive upset. In large amounts, it can lead to seizures, irregular heartbeat, and even death.

The rule of thumb is that the darker the chocolate is, the more dangerous toxins it contains for animals. A few nibbles of extra dark chocolate might be enough to kill a turkey!

3. Avocado

All parts of an avocado plant contain a toxin called persin, including the leaves, branches, skins, and pits. Toxin levels are low, but not absent, in the flesh.

Persin, when consumed by turkeys, can lead to respiratory distress, organ failure, and death. Don’t risk it: skip feeding avocados to your flock.

4. Tomato Leaves and Vines

While ripe tomatoes are safe for turkeys to eat in moderation, the leaves and vines of the tomato plant can be toxic.

They, and all nightshade-family plants, contain solanine, a substance that can cause symptoms such as loss of appetite, dilated pupils, paralysis, and in severe cases, death.

5. Potato Leaves

Potato plants are nightshades, and particularly the leaves and stems have high levels of solanine just like tomato plants. Avoid at all costs!

6. Eggplant Leaves

Eggplants are another nightshade plant, making them unsafe for turkeys.

Eating of these leaves and vines can lead to the same symptoms as eating potato or tomato leaves: loss of appetite, dilated pupils, and paralysis. Death is possible if large quantities are eaten.

7. Uncooked Beans

Uncooked beans are extremely dangerous for turkeys due high amounts of phytohaemagglutinin, which is a type of lectin.

This toxin can interfere with cell function and cause symptoms severe diarrhea, organ damage, and death.

Always make sure any beans fed to turkeys are properly soaked, cooked and cooled prior to serving. Never, ever give raw, dry beans to turkeys!

Some More Foods They May or May Not Be Able To Eat

Can Turkeys Eat Acorns?

Yes, turkeys can eat acorns. Turkeys eat acorns all the time in the wild, but you shouldn’t make them a mainstay of their diet because the tannins they contain can be toxic to turkeys.

Can Turkeys Eat Almonds?

Yes. Turkeys can eat almonds and they’re a good source of various vitamins and minerals for them. But like all seeds, they shouldn’t be the majority part of a turkey’s diet.

Can Turkeys Eat Asparagus?

Yes, though most turkeys seem to avoid it. Turkeys are likely to nibble off the delicate heads and leave behind the woody stems.

Can Turkeys Eat Avocado?

No. All parts of the avocado plant, and that includes all parts of the fruit, contain persin, a dangerous toxin. The flesh has very little toxin, but it’s still risky to feed it to turkeys.

Can Turkeys Eat Beans?

Yes, only if they are properly soaked, cooked and cooled. Raw, dry beans contain dangerous compounds that can damage a turkey’s bloodstream and internal organs.

Can Turkeys Eat Blueberries?

Yes. Turkeys love all kinds of berries and blueberries are no exception. Blueberries contain vitamins and minerals that are great for the immune system, and turkeys really love them, making them a great treat.

Can Turkeys Eat Broccoli?

Yes, in limited amounts. Turkeys love the small, delicate florets of broccoli and we’ll get great nutrition from them, but like all brassica plants they are high in sulfates which may be harmful.

Feed in limited quantities for best results and health.

Can Turkeys Eat Cabbage?

Yes, they can. Turkeys love all sorts of cabbages and all common varieties are safe and healthy for turkeys.

As always, make sure that cabbage is only a part of a nutritionally complete diet containing other whole foods and turkey feed.

Can Turkeys Eat Cantaloupe?

Yes, turkeys can eat cantaloupe. Turkeys love all kinds of melons, and melons are a healthy, hydrating snack for them. However, most melons are pretty sugary, so serve them in limited quantities.

Can Turkeys Eat Celery?

Yes, they can. Celery is a crisp, nutritious snack for turkeys that will help them stay hydrated. But keep an eye on your birds because stringy celery is a potential choking hazard

Can Turkeys Eat Chocolate?

No, turkeys cannot eat chocolate! Chocolate contains dangerous theobromine and caffeine which can poison turkeys.

Darker chocolate is worse, but all chocolate is dangerous for turkeys.

Can Turkeys Eat Corn?

Yes, turkeys can eat corn. Turkeys love all kinds of corn and get great energy and nutritional content from, though it should be fed on a limited basis because it’s very high in calories.

Can Turkeys Eat Corn Husks?

Yes, turkeys can eat corn husks, but there’s no good reason to feed them corn husks.

Cornhusks offer almost nothing in the way of nutrition and are somewhat difficult for turkeys to digest.

Can Turkeys Eat Cucumbers?

Yes, turkeys can eat cool, crisp cucumbers. A refreshing veggie that most turkeys love, the flesh and the skins contain needed nutrients.

As with most juicy, watery produce, feed on a limited basis to avoid loose stools or diarrhea.

Can Turkeys Eat Dog Food?

Yes, but only incidentally. Dog food is for dogs, not turkeys, and is nowhere near nutritionally balanced for them.

If a turkey swipes a few bites of dog food it isn’t going to hurt it, but deliberately feeding it to them will cause problems.

Can Turkeys Eat Eggs?

Yes, turkeys can and will eat eggs.

Eggs are extremely nutritious for turkeys, but any that you deliberately give them should be scrambled and thoroughly cooked in order to avoid promoting egg cannibalism in your flock. They might start eating their own!

Can Turkeys Eat Fruit?

Yes, turkeys can eat all kinds of fruit. Fruit is a healthy and wholesome addition to a turkey’s diet, but all fruits are very sugary and so must be fed on a limited basis in small quantities to avoid trouble.

Can Turkeys Eat Garlic?

Yes, but with major reservations. Garlic like other allium genus plants contain toxic compounds which can harm a turkey, but small amounts of garlic are regularly used to get rid of internal parasites in turkeys and other birds.

Do your homework before you let them eat it!

Can Turkeys Eat Green Beans?

Yes, turkeys can eat green beans. Both the beans and the pods are safe for turkeys as long as they are properly prepared and cooked to remove toxic compounds present in raw beans.

Can Turkeys Eat Kale?

Yes, turkeys can eat kale. It’s highly nutritious with a great profile of vitamins and minerals, but it should be fed to turkeys sparingly because it has high amounts of oxalic acid.

Can Turkeys Eat Kiwi?

Yes, they sure can. Turkeys can eat kiwi fruit with the skin on or removed.

Turkeys love these little green fruits and they are very nutritious, but also very sweet, so save them as treats.

Can Turkeys Eat Marigolds?

Yes, turkeys can eat marigolds. The stems, petals, heads and other parts of the flower are safe for them to eat and nutritious.

It’s thought that the seeds contain a somewhat toxic compound, but it is unlikely that turkeys will eat enough of the seeds for it to matter.

Can Turkeys Eat Meat?

Yes, they can. Turkeys are omnivores and that means they eat animal and vegetable matter.

Turkeys can eat all kinds of fresh meat, be it from mammals, other birds, reptiles, amphibians, or insects.

Can Turkeys Eat Mushrooms?

Yes, turkeys can eat mushrooms cautiously. Safe mushrooms are a healthy addition to the diet of most turkeys, but you should never, ever let your turkeys eat mushrooms of unknown provenance.

Eating even a little bit of a poisonous mushroom will easily kill any bird.

Can Turkeys Eat Nuts?

Yes, turkeys can eat nuts. Turkeys eat all kinds of tree nuts in the wild, and all common nuts are safe for them to eat and in limited quantities.

Nuts are high in protein and fat, and eating too many can make turkeys sick.

Can Turkeys Eat Oats?

Yes, but very sparingly. Oats are sweet, tasty and nutritious but they have a tendency to cause crop and gizzard problems in turkeys and other poultry.

A handful now and then is not a problem, but don’t make a habit of it.

Can Turkeys Eat Onions?

No. Unlike garlic, onions don’t really have a medicinal purpose for turkeys and are thought to be too toxic to be a regular part of their diet.

Can Turkeys Eat Peaches?

Yes, peaches are safe for turkeys to eat. Peaches are very sweet and juicy, and turkeys like them, but they are so sugary and moist they can cause digestive problems. Keep the portions small and feed occasionally.

Can Turkeys Eat Peanut Butter?

No! Peanut butter contains way too much fat, salt and protein to be good for turkeys, and it’s so sticky it’s likely to be a choking hazard or cause problems in their crop.

Can Turkeys Eat Popcorn?

Yes, surprisingly enough! Turkeys can eat plain, unseasoned and unsalted popcorn safely.

It has minerals that turkeys need and will give them plenty of calories, making it a decent snack and cold weather or whenever they need extra energy.

Can Turkeys Eat Radishes?

Yes, turkeys can eat radishes. Radish tops and the roots themselves are both safe for turkeys to eat, though they might not bother with particularly hard radishes unless you chop them up.

Can Turkeys Eat Rice?

Yes, turkeys can eat rice. Cooked rice is a good source of calories and minerals for turkeys, and raw rice won’t hurt them in limited quantities though it is harder for them to digest.

Can Turkeys Eat Spinach?

Yes, turkeys can eat spinach safely. Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse that turkeys seem to enjoy, but like other brassicas, it’s high in oxalates that can impair calcium uptake in them.

Feed sparingly, and pay attention to the quantity of other brassica plants that your turkeys are getting.

Can Turkeys Eat Squash?

Yes. Turkeys can eat summer and winter squashes, no problem.

Can Turkeys Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, turkeys will happily eat sunflower seeds and they are a great source of nutrition and calories for them.

Make sure you give your birds sunflower seeds as part of a balanced diet, though.

Can Turkeys Eat Zucchini?

Yes, turkeys can eat zucchini. Zucchini is another nutritious squash that your birds will eat with relish.

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