Determining turkey gender will be relatively easy for if you are raising turkeys for a long period.
But you can also learn about the ways of determining turkey gender through regular practice.
There are many behavioral and physical characteristics that you can observe for identifying males and females.
Although closer view of the birds is also required sometimes for determining turkey gender (for example, young males may lack some of the characteristics that adult males possess, and this could cause confusion).
Coloration in the turkeys were genetically removed in the 1960s when commercial turkey production gained popularity.
Different Ways for Determining Turkey Gender
Different turkey breeds have different coloration and other body characteristics.
So determining turkey gender depends on the breed you have. Here we are describing more about the ways of determining turkey gender.
Determining the Gender of Poults (Baby Turkey)
Determining the gender of poults can be challenging, and it depends on the breed. Vent observing method is the most commonly used method for determining turkey gender which began in the 1920s.
Although, success in vent method requires a keen eye and lots of practice. You need to examine the vent or opening of the poults for examining the development of the reproduction organs.
Generally the male poults have round bumps, while the females have concave or flat centers. This method actually takes time and lots of practice. And the method has around 90 to 95 percent success rate.
Compare the Size of the Birds
Comparing the size of the birds is a great way for determining turkey gender from a distance.
Generally, the males are larger in size and overall appearance than the females.
If you observe a group of turkey, any adult male turkey should appear notably larger than any nearby females.
Look for the Beard
Generally the male turkeys have a beard of modified feathers running down the chest. While the females generally don’t have such beard.
Top of the Head
Check the top of the head. Most of the male turkeys generally have completely featherless heads, while the females have small feathers that extend over the top of their heads.
Along with this, color of the male turkey’s head will change depending on it’s current level of excitement (especially during mating season).
Head of the male turkey can switch from red to blue to white. And this change can happen within seconds.
Closely observer the coloration of your birds for determining turkey gender.
Generally, the males have more brightly colored feathers than the females. While the females have much duller coloration and drabber appearance.
Depending on the breed, the males can have an iridescent red, green, bronze, copper or gold sheen.
And during breeding season, the males use these brightly colored feathers for attracting females. And in most cases, the more brightly colored males generally have the greatest success.
On the other hand, the females have gray or brown feathers that lack iridescence.
However, colored feathers of the turkey were genetically removed in the 1960s for commercial turkey farming business.
This was done for avoiding the black pigment left behind when feathers were plucked.
Observe the Tail
Female turkeys keep their tail down. On the other hand, male turkeys frequently raise their tails into the shape of a fan (actually fanning the tails is an act of dominance for the male turkeys).
Males also perform this act for attracting females or even when trying to scare off potential threats.
Monitor the Presence of Leg Spurs
Female turkeys generally have smooth, spur-free legs. While the males have spurs or small spike-shaped bumps that should be visible from a moderate distance.
Male turkey generally use this spurs for the purposes of dominance and defense. They use them for attacking predators and rivals during mating season.
Listen to Their Call
Listening to the call of your birds is also an option for determining turkey gender. The females will softly cluck or yelp (but they generally don’t gobble).
But the males make the well-known ‘gobble’ noise. Gobbling is also an act of dominance just like fanning the tail. The males also gobble to scare predators and potential rivals.
These are the most common ways for determining turkey gender. If you are a beginner, you can easily identify male turkeys from females if you follow the above mentioned systems. God bless you!
Best Tips for Determining Turkey Gender
Determining the gender of a turkey can be tricky, but here are some tips which will help you for determining turkey gender.
1. Look for the snood
The snood is a fleshy protuberance on the top of the turkey’s beak. It is typically longer on males.
2. Observe the color of the head
In some breeds, males have a redder head while females have a bluish-gray head.
3. Check the beard
Some males have a beard, which is a tuft of feathers that protrude from their chest. Females do not have beards.
4. Examine the wattles
These are the fleshy folds of skin that hang down from the turkey’s chin. Males usually have longer, thicker wattles.
5. Look at the size
Males are generally larger than females.
6. Check the feathers
Males often have more iridescent feathers, especially on their breast and tail.
7. Listen to the gobble
Only males gobble. Females make a clucking sound.
8. Observe the strut
Males will puff out their feathers and fan their tail feathers when trying to impress females.
9. Watch for aggression
Males are more likely to be aggressive, especially during breeding season.
10. Check the legs
Males often have thicker legs than females.
11. Examine the spurs
Only males have spurs, which are small bony projections on the back of the legs.
12. Look at the size of the feet
Males generally have larger feet than females.
13. Watch for dominant behavior
Males are more likely to be dominant in a group.
14. Look for the snood changing color
The snood can turn blue, red or white depending on the turkey’s mood. Males will often display a bright red snood during courtship.
15. Check the shape of the body
Males tend to have a more streamlined, athletic shape, while females are more rounded.
16. Watch for flock behavior
Males will often lead the flock.
17. Look at the size of the wings
Males often have longer and more pointed wings than females.
18. Observe the tail feathers
Males have longer, more pointed tail feathers than females.
19. Look at the neck
Males often have a thicker neck than females.
20. Watch for strutting behavior
Males will often strut around with their feathers puffed out.
21. Observe the behavior during breeding season
Males will often display more courtship behavior during breeding season.
22. Check for aggression towards other males
Males may fight with other males over mating rights.
23. Observe the behavior around females
Males will often try to impress females with their plumage and behavior.
24. Look for a snood that hangs down over the beak
Males often have a snood that hangs down over their beak.
25. Watch for territorial behavior
Males may become aggressive towards other animals that enter their territory.
26. Observe the behavior around food
Males will often try to assert dominance over other birds when it comes to food.
27. Look for color differences
In some breeds, males and females may have different coloration.
28. Check for a beard and spurs
As mentioned before, only males have a beard and spurs.
29. Look at the shape of the head
Males often have a more angular, masculine-shaped head than females.
Note that these tips are not foolproof, and it can still be difficult to determine the gender of a turkey with complete accuracy.
Related Queries & FAQs
There are lots of questions and queries related to determining turkey gender. Here we are trying to list the common questions and queries about the ways for determining turkey gender and trying to answer them. Hope you will find answers of your questions or queries. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.
How can I tell if my turkey is male or female?
One way to determine turkey gender is by looking at their plumage or feathers.
What are some differences in feather color between male and female turkeys?
Male turkeys, or toms, have brighter and more vibrant feathers, while females, or hens, have duller and less colorful feathers.
Can turkeys change feather colors as they age?
No, turkeys cannot change feather colors as they age.
Are there any physical differences between male and female turkeys besides feather color?
Yes, male turkeys have a larger body and a longer snood, which is the fleshy protuberance that hangs over their beak.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by looking at its beak?
No, you cannot determine the gender of a turkey by looking at its beak.
How can I tell if a turkey is a juvenile or an adult?
Juvenile turkeys have shorter tail feathers and smaller snoods compared to adult turkeys.
Do male and female turkeys have different vocalizations?
Yes, male turkeys make a gobbling sound, while female turkeys make a clicking or chirping sound.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by its weight?
No, you cannot determine the gender of a turkey by its weight.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by its size?
In general, male turkeys are larger than female turkeys, but size alone is not a reliable indicator of gender.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by its behavior?
Male turkeys are more aggressive and territorial, while female turkeys are more docile and social. However, behavior alone is not a reliable indicator of gender.
Are there any differences in the shape of the turkey’s head between males and females?
Yes, male turkeys have a more angular and prominent head shape compared to female turkeys.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by its wattle or snood size?
Yes, male turkeys have larger wattles and snoods compared to female turkeys.
Are there any differences in the color of the turkey’s legs between males and females?
No, the color of the turkey’s legs is the same for both males and females.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by its tail feathers?
Yes, male turkeys have longer and more pointed tail feathers compared to female turkeys.
Are there any differences in the shape of the turkey’s body between males and females?
Yes, male turkeys have a more elongated and streamlined body shape compared to female turkeys.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by its comb or snood color?
Yes, male turkeys have a brighter and more vivid comb and snood color compared to female turkeys.
How old does a turkey need to be before its gender can be reliably determined?
It is generally possible to determine a turkey’s gender by 6-8 weeks of age.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by its spurs?
Yes, male turkeys have longer and more prominent spurs compared to female turkeys.
Are there any differences in the way male and female turkeys walk?
No, male and female turkeys walk in the same way.
Can I determine the gender of a turkey by looking at its overall appearance?
Yes, by observing the overall appearance of the turkey, including its size, body shape, plumage, snood and wattle size, tail feathers, and behavior, you may be able to make an educated guess about its gender, but it is not always a reliable indicator. It is best to use multiple methods to determine the gender of a turkey to ensure accuracy.