Poults per hen turkeys
As part of its 2023 investment in wild turkey research, the NWTF is helping fund a new project led by Kansas State University; the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; and the U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
The nutrition research is a component of a more extensive overall demographic study that seeks to update critical wild turkey data, including survival, nest success, hunter influence and more.
The poult which is a young developing turkey and the hen forage ecology aspect of the study will occur in three different study sites in Kansas – including Trego, Lincoln and Osage counties – and will encompass areas inhabited by both Eastern and Rio Grande wild turkeys.
Both subspecies of wild turkeys were accounted for in the state’s past brood surveys, which measure poults per hen, a ratio that wildlife managers use to measure the stability of a population. In 2021, the statewide poults-per-hen ratio in Kansas was 1.2, and in 2022, the ratio was 1.4.
Anything below two poults per hen indicates a declining wild turkey population.
To establish a poults-per-hen ratio of two or higher, the success of a hen raising a healthy brood and recruiting poults to juveniles is essential. The emerging research will examine the diets of poults and hens in their most critical stages for recruitment: the first two weeks for poults and nesting periods for hens.
“The importance of food resources from hatch to a flighted state has been well-reported, but we lack detailed knowledge of specific food resources selected by poults during this vulnerable period,” said Dan Sullins, Ph.D., assistant professor at Kansas State University.