Can Turkeys and Chickens Live Together?

Keeping chickens with turkeys is a practice many poultry experts have discouraged for years. However, keeping these birds together can be exciting, especially for poultry farmers who embrace a mixed flock approach.

While there are some health concerns to consider while keeping turkeys and chickens together, these birds can exist peacefully and make a fabulous mixed flock.

Differences Between Turkeys and Chickens

Turkeys and chickens are the most popular domesticated fowl. These birds have some close similarities. For example, they have wattles that help them release excess heat during hot weather.

Furthermore, they have feathers adorning their bodies to help them remain warm, particularly during cold months. Nonetheless, turkeys and chickens have some differences. These are the differences between turkeys and chickens.

Physical Features

Turkeys and chickens have entirely different physical features besides their wattles. Turkeys have dark feathers with featherless necks and heads. They also have snoods over their heads.

On the other hand, chickens have colorful feathers, with male chickens having more colorful feathers. Turkeys are also larger than chickens. Even the most miniature turkey weighs between ten and fifteen lbs., more than the largest chicken.


Both fowls have been the most domesticated birds in the Americas and worldwide. However, they hail from nations that are oceans away. The first domestic chicken was from the ancient jungle fowl in Southeastern Asia. The first domesticated turkey was from its wild ancestors in Mexico.


Both fowls belong to the same family and order. They are also ground-dwelling birds. However, chickens have been the most popular domesticated bird in many nations than turkeys.

While these two ground-feeding birds belong to the same order and family, they belong to an entirely different genus. Turkeys belong to the Meleagris genus, while chickens belong to the Gallus genus, which comprises all jungle fowl.

Flavor and Texture

It is hard to explain the differences in texture and taste between chickens and turkeys. Turkeys, however, have a unique flavor considering turkeys are less domesticated compared to chickens. Furthermore, a chicken’s flavor and texture depend on the chicken breed.

Some chickens have a more subtle texture and taste than others, while the flavor and texture are the same across all turkey breeds, including heritage turkey breeds.

Besides texture and flavor, chickens and turkeys also have different nutritional values. Turkeys produce leaner white meat than chickens. Turkey meat is an excellent low-fat alternative to commercial red meat.

While chicken and turkey meat are rich in protein and vital amino acids, chicken meat is higher in cholesterol, fat, and calories than turkey meat. Both turkey and chicken meats are high in vitamin B, niacin, selenium, and phosphorus. While turkey meat has all these nutrients, it has more riboflavin, zinc, and iron than chicken meat.

Keeping Turkeys and Chickens Together

If you are a poultry enthusiast, you might be dabbling with different bird species, so you could be toying with raising chickens and turkeys together. Ideally speaking, turkeys and chickens are capable of coexisting peacefully.

However, poultry farmers must consider some practical things before raising chickens and turkeys. Before you begin raising your mixed flock, kindly check these tips on raising turkeys and chickens together.

Housing Requirements

While turkeys prefer roosting outdoors, unlike chickens, sleeping outdoors isn’t an option for turkey raisers raising their birds in predator-prone environments and harsh weather conditions. Moreover, turkeys are larger than chickens, so you need to calculate housing space before setting up the coop for your birds.

Consequently, turkeys will require a larger coop space than chickens. Your coop needs to provide the mixed flock with abundant space inside and on the coop run. Every adult turkey needs around five to eight square feet of coop space.

An adult turkey also requires a run space of approximately 15 square feet. Every adult chicken in your mixed flock needs about five square feet of living space and around 8 square feet of run space.

Turkeys have larger feet than chickens, so you must consider that when setting roosts inside the coop for your birds. You can address this issue by installing thicker roosts in the coop to ensure each bird has a comfortable roosting spot.

Nesting boxes are crucial in any coop housing egg-laying chickens and turkeys. Chickens lay more eggs than turkeys, so your coop should have more nesting boxes for chickens than for turkeys. Female turkeys are larger than female chickens. Hence egg-laying turkeys require larger nesting boxes than egg-laying hens.

Feeding and Watering Requirements

Considering feeding and watering requirements is vital while raising turkeys and chickens together. Turkeys eat more than chicken. Thus, you must adhere to the perfect feed ratio while keeping your mixed flock. Newly hatched turkeys, known as poults, require more starter feed than baby chicks.

Overall, turkeys have higher protein intake requirements than chickens. Every turkey should consume feed with at least 20% protein, while chickens should consume around 16% protein. Both turkeys and chickens need calcium, so you should add calcium-rich foods or calcium supplements to their diets.

Most significantly, these two fowls need ample water, although turkeys require more water than chickens. Each turkey should drink at least three gallons of water, while an adult chicken should drink approximately two water gallons daily.

Managing Health Issues in Mixed Flocks

Health concerns threaten most mixed flocks, making poultry experts discourage farmers from keeping turkeys and chickens together. For instance, turkeys and chickens can spread diseases such as blackhead disease to each other.

You can manage health issues in your mixed flock by checking for early symptoms of diseases in your flock. You can also vaccinate your chickens and turkeys against diseases in mixed flocks.

Some of the health concerns prevalent in mixed flocks result from poor sanitation. For instance, mixed flocks living in dirty and stinky coops are at risk of salmonella, a deadly poultry disease that causes massive deaths worldwide.

Fowl cholera is another dangerous disease affecting mixed flocks in dirty and poor sanitary conditions. The pathogens causing most of these diseases hide in droppings, so it helps to clean the coop daily to protect your flock from deadly poultry diseases.

Moreover, you can isolate the sick turkeys and chickens from the flock, especially if the sick birds grapple with a contagious disease. Isolation will ensure the sick fowls don’t spread diseases to healthy birds. It also allows birds to recover from illnesses because you can give the ailing birds proper care in isolation.

Reducing Aggression and Bullying

Aggression and bullying are also serious concerns that arise when raising mixed flocks. In most instances, chickens and turkeys will fight over food and space since these birds can’t fight over mates. You can reduce aggression and bullying in your mixed flock by ensuring all the birds have ample food and living space.

You can separate the aggressive turkeys or chickens from the flock to reduce the occurrence of aggression and bullying. Furthermore, avoid introducing new birds to the mixed flock because they could easily fall victim to bullying from the dominant flock members.

Hatching and Raising Poults with Chicks

Ideally, you can hatch poults and baby chicks in the same conditions since the requirements for hatching baby chicks, and poults are almost similar. You can also use your broody hens to hatch poults from fertile turkey eggs. However, it isn’t prudent to raise baby chicks and poults together.

Newly hatched poults get off to a slow start, while baby chicks have a quicker start. Poults also have a higher feed intake than chicks, so your newly hatched baby chicks won’t meet their dietary needs while feeding with poults. So it’s best to raise poults and chicks in separate brooders until the birds are old enough.


While most poultry enthusiasts think chickens and turkeys can’t live together, these birds can coexist peacefully. Despite the health concerns that arise from raising mixed flocks, turkeys and chickens can live together if farmers address these concerns amicably.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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