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Biology Lesson on Turkey Crops

Posted by Jim Schlender, Editor

tky crop snails.jpgA reader identified only as Lowell recently e-mailed this photo with a note:

“I shot this turkey last weekend near Ozona, Texas, and after cleaning it I checked its crop to see what it had been eating and discovered all these small snails. Would a turkey be able to digest the shells and is it common?”

I forwarded the photo to our Biology columnist, Lovett Williams Jr., and this was his reply:

“Yes, turkeys can digest them, shell and all. I suspect some of the shells remain in the gizzard while being ground. The hens are said to eat snails to provide minerals for their egg shells but I think they can get enough from their bones and then replace them in the diet later. Gobblers are known to eat snails for the nutrition. There’s a lot of meat in escargot.”

The shells are interesting enough, but I was also struck by the variety of items in this bird’s crop. And I wondered about the red things … Chili peppers? I wonder if Lowell likes his turkey meat extra spicy.

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