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Feed Winter Turkeys
February 11, 2011
I've heard both pros and cons of feeding turkeys during winter months, but I'm all for supplementary feeding winter flocks if the right program is put in place. How you feed turkeys greatly depends on weather conditions, type of terrain and your area of the country.
Editor's Note: Check state and local game laws before feeding animals.
Opening photo by:
We designed a feeding program for our area in Missouri to pull in more birds and keep flocks healthy during late January and February.
During late winter the food plots and crop fields were completely wiped out from high densities of feeding deer. Add heavy snow, ice storms and brutal cold and our feeding efforts not only helped turkeys, but all wildlife, including deer, pheasants and quail.
My program consisted of a dozen barrel tripod type feeders spread out on 1,200 acres that would disperse feed twice a day. We also used a 55-gallon broadcast type spreader that attached to my truck trailer hitch.
Whole corn works best, but try not to use cracked corn because it grows mold quicker. Soybeans are also a good high-energy supplementary food source.
The key to my program was feeder placement: always set up feeders in remote wooded areas away from roads and move each feeder 3 to 4 times a month, dependent on turkey use. This prevents poaching and disease from spreading.
Moving a feeder a hundred yards or so in the same area prevented dropping build up under the feeder that can cause disease and predator problems.
During extreme conditions, when there are no acorns, crop fields are empty and the food plots are wiped out, broadcasting with the truck worked extremely well. I really like this method, driving the edge of crop fields spreading corn in the edge cover where turkeys have to work for it.
Spreading corn on the edges of corn fields, and soybeans on the edges of soybean fields worked extremely well because turkeys are already used to feeding in those areas.
In the Ozarks timber where there are no crop fields, or food plots, I believe it's even more important to feed, especially during years of no acorn production. I also move feeders and use spreaders on remote ridge top logging roads, the result is not only a healthy flock, but lots of spring gobblers, even after break up because we're now holding so many hens in our area.
Keep the turkey flocks in your area healthy by following this winter feeding strategy.
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