Aging and Sexing a Turkey 

Determining Sex of a Turkey

It's relatively easy to determine a turkey's gender from a distance. Look for these key characteristics.

Female Turkeys (Hens):

  • Have feathers all the way to the top of their heads
  • Rarely have a beard of whiskers protruding from their chest
  • Do not have spurs on their legs
  • Do not display their tail in a fan
  • Make soft clucks and yelps, but never gobble

Male Turkeys (Gobblers):

  • Have featherless heads that fluctuate between blue, red and white when the turkey is excited.
  • Almost always have a beard of whiskers protruding from their chest
  • Have sharp spurs on their legs
  • Fan their tails to display dominance
  • Gobble loudly to display dominance

Determining the Age of a Gobbler


Gobblers are broken into two categories by age, jakes (juvenile) and toms (adults). Look for these characteristics when determining if a turkey is a jake or tom.

Jakes (juvenile gobblers):

  • Do not have wing feathers that are barred all the way to the tip
  • Have beards 6 inches or shorter
  • Have central tail feathers that are longer than the rest.
  • Have spurs that are still forming

Toms (adult gobblers):

  • Have wing feathers with white bars all the way to the tip
  • Have beards longer than 6 inches
  • Have all tail feathers the same length
  • Have developed spurs