Toms or Hens? Sexing Turkeys
Toms or Hens? Sexing Turkeys
When I went to pick out my poults, I had never sexed a turkey chick before. I looked up the basics online but a lot of it was guess work. The man I bought them from would not tell me which was which because he didn’t want to have favoritism buying (basically us buying up all his hens leaving him with only Thanksgiving dinner candidates). We had to point at which ones we wanted, and he would box them up for us and if we didn’t know what we were doing, well then, that was our problem. (kind of harsh huh!)
I am glad I had researched a bit online beforehand so I would know that the hens would have a more triangular shaped head and the toms a more boxy head before we came. (I research everything!)
I wanted to get two toms and three hens. I looked the little guys over and tried to judge them by their heads and also by their snood size. (The snood is the floppy fleshy part of a grown tom that is above their nostrils) I used that method to determine my poult’s sex, attempting to get my two boys and three girls but I really had no idea what I was doing. So we just had to wait and see what we ended up with!
At four months old I was no more certain what sex my poults were than the day I bought them so we just kept waiting.
Now at a year old, I can easily tell my boy from my girls. Of course at this point they are finally laying and mounting but a month ago they were not and I was still guessing which was which. I finally started comparing them.
They all look so similar but if you have never been around bronze turkeys before you may not catch on to the subtle difference.
The male is to the left and female to the right! Notice they both have drooping snoods about the same size!! But “Turk” my tom (left) has more skin showing down his neck and does not have the tiny feathers on his head like my hen does. My girls all sport a Mohawk!
Another tell tale sign is if they have spur buds or not! Turk (left) has a beginning spur forming on his legs! The hen(right) does not have any growing “buds.”
But the easiest and quickest way to identify your first year toms from your hens (even in the wild) is their chest feathers!! Once their chest feathers come in, toms have the more showy bronzed feathers with black tips and the hens have the more dull feathers with white tips!!
I am proud to say I think I must have sexed them right as chicks because I have three hens and one tom! (I lost a chick early on and I will speculate that the one turkey I lost as a “teen turkey” was a tom also… though we will never know for sure)
As a homeschooler, I guess the kids and I both learn best with hands on experiences and I blog to “document” my finds!! Acquiring knowledge about my livestock is actually one of the things I love most about my little homesteading adventure, I tend to learn a bit through reading and a lot through simple observations! Hope my observations help someone else who may be scratching their heads wondering if you have toms or hens!!
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Posted on February 15, 2015, in Animals, Homesteading and tagged Turkeys. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
I really appreciate this article ! Very well explained in plain english that i can understand !!