After a summer together, hens with young-of-the-year birds remain in family groups. Juvenile turkeys, especially young hens (jennies), aren't ready to strike out on their own. And there is safety--more eyes and ears--in numbers. In fact, family groups often join ranks to grow the flock's size, sometimes to more than 30 birds as fall progresses. Much of this flocking occurs as hens and their broods come together around a prime food source, such as a harvested grain field or productive oak ridge. An old "master" hen usually leads a combined family flock.
As autumn progresses, family flocks are less and less likely to contain young gobblers that hatched in spring. These three- to six-month-old jakes have grown big over the summer, and by now are larger than their mothers. They set out on their own, joining jakes that have left other family groups. These raucous boy gangs squabble and carry on as they compete to see who's the boss. This is an attention-getting, predator-attracting activity that a family hen flock doesn't need. Jake flocks may number up to a dozen or more birds, and they stay together through fall and winter, into the following spring.