Raising show turkeys.

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A Narragansett turkey at a poultry show with her tom

Raising turkeys for show is an exciting and rewarding experience. Showing off your turkeys can be a great way to promote your farm and even win some prizes.

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However, raising turkeys for show requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and attention to detail. In this article, we will provide you with a complete guide on raising turkeys for show, including tips on selecting, feeding, and grooming your birds.

How do you show turkeys?

Turkeys often appear in poultry shows, they can be shown for:

  • Their meat, carcasses are shown on their weight, shape and structure,
  • Their eggs, Turkey eggs can be some of the most contested classes at shows,
  • Their feathers and appearance, How well they conform to the breed standard.

Raising show turkeys can be a great business and a rewarding hobby. The only caveat is, it takes a lot more dedication than, say, raising turkeys for meat. 

Turkeys are also large birds that require careful handling and much more space than say chickens would.

What do you feed show turkeys?

Feeding your turkeys a balanced diet is essential for their health and appearance. Here are some tips on feeding your turkeys for show:

  • Provide your turkeys with a high-quality commercial feed that contains a balanced amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Turkeys like fresh greens so if you can supplement their diet with sprouts or pasture they will be much happier.
  • Give your turkeys fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Add supplements to their diet, such as probiotics, vitamins, and electrolytes.

Turkeys, especially those that are bred for competition, need to be cared for and fed regularly  for the rest of their lives. In addition to these perpetual tasks, raising show turkeys is also a time-consuming activity, and one that requires great amount of patience and dedication.

Below: Turkey eggs on show.

Before you start raising show turkeys, you should first familiarise yourself with the vitamins and nutrients that promote growth of muscle tissues and bones, those that improve the immune system, and those that provide energy for the birds' daily activities.

What do you look for in a show Turkey?

Selecting the right turkeys is crucial for a successful show. Here are some tips to help you choose the best birds for the job:

  • Look for turkeys with a strong, healthy appearance.
  • Choose birds with good body conformation, such as a straight back and well-rounded breast.
  • Look for birds with a vibrant and shiny feather colour.
  • Check for any physical defects, such as crooked toes, twisted beaks, or feather abnormalities.
  • Birds must conform to the breed standards and be a good size and weight.

Below: A well chosen slate turkey.

Do turkeys need a bath?

A turkey might well need a wash before a show. To clean and groom a show turkey is quite an undertaking. It is much easier to spot clean a turkey than it is to wash and dry the whole bird so this should be your aim.

Grooming Your Turkeys for Show:

Grooming your turkeys is a critical part of preparing them for a show. Here are some tips on grooming your turkeys for show:

  • Bathe your turkeys a few days before the show with a mild shampoo.
  • Trim and file their nails and beaks to prevent any injuries.
  • Trim or pull any stray feathers around their vent, face and eyes.
  • Use a blow dryer to dry their feathers thoroughly.

One of the best things you can do is keep them clean for the few weeks before the show by bringing them into a clean dry shed with plenty of wood shavings on the floor. In this situation the feathers will clean themselves over the course of a few weeks.

Care of show turkeys:

Raising show turkeys basically involves four major phases, the first of which is setting up an environment that will promote their growth and health. It is important that you have the breeding space ready before the birds arrive, including all the equipment and facilities.

The typical requirements for raising happy turkeys are:

  • Ample space,
  • Sufficient ventilation,
  • A controlled temperature,
  • Safety and protection from birds' natural predators as well as the elements. 
  • A diet that sufficiently supplies their nutritional requirements. The right nutrition allows the birds to achieve their full growth potential. 

After you have set up the perfect environment for the birds and have figured out the right balance of feeds, the next thing you need to learn to do is how to choose the birds that are most likely to win.

The typical criteria for judging show turkeys are weight, size and amount of breast meat.

When selecting which birds to enter in competitions, look for those that are biggest and heaviest, and with the most concentration of muscles at the breast. Examine the birds for any defect, such as wounds, crooked legs or broken bones, as these are grounds for disqualification.

Finally, the last part of raising show turkeys is keeping records of them. Records allow you to keep track of the progress of your turkeys, and your previous decisions regarding each of them. Your records should also include notes about the facilities, such as temperature, humidity levels, weights, health and feed consumption.


Q: How old should my turkeys be before I can show them?

A: Turkeys should be at least 8-10 months old before they are ready for a show.

Q: Can I show more than one turkey?

A: Yes, you can show multiple turkeys, but each bird must meet the show's criteria.

Q: Do turkeys need to be vaccinated before a show?

A: It is highly recommended to vaccinate your turkeys before the show to prevent any diseases.


Raising turkeys for show requires a lot of hard work, but it can also be a rewarding experience. Selecting the right turkeys, feeding them a balanced diet, and grooming them for the show are essential steps to ensure a successful show. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you will be well on your way to raising healthy and beautiful turkeys for show. So, what are you waiting for? Start preparing your turkeys for their next show today!