Turkey Breeds / Varieties
Turkeys are large birds (the eighth largest living bird species in terms of maximum mass) native originally to the Americas, but after European colonization turkeys were transported to Europe and today they are a common livestock in Europe, America, and many other part of the world . They are raised for their meat all year round but are closely associated in America as the star of the yearly Thanksgiving Dinner.
Female domesticated turkeys are referred to as hens, and the chicks may be called poults or turkeylings. In the United States, the males are referred to as toms, while in Europe, males are stags. Male Turkeys are more colorful than female turkeys and have a distinctive fleshy wattle or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak (called a snood).
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Breeds/ Varieties of Turkeys
There are the following breeds of Turkeys:
Auburn Turkeys, also known as Light Brown Turkeys, is a
heritage turkey breed. They are one of the rarest varieties currently in the
world. Auburn Turkeys’ plumage is light reddish.
Beltsville Small White
Beltsville Small White Turkeys are relatively small and have
completely white plumage. They were developed at the USDA's Beltsville Agricultural Research
In the early 1930s most turkeys raised in the US had dark
colored plumage, were medium to large in size and had a narrow breast without a
lot of meat. In 1936 a survey found that 87% of home consumers wanted a New
York-dressed bird (blood and feathers removed) weighing between 8 and 15
pounds. They also wanted a bird that was meaty, well-finished, and had n
Black Turkeys, sometimes
referred to as Black Spanish Turkeys or Norfolk Black Turkeys, were developed
in Europe from a group of Aztec turkeys brought from Mexico in the 1500's. Today
they are found throughout Europe and are considered the oldest turkey breed in
Black Turkeys have a
lustrous greenish-black plumage.
Black Turkeys were sent
in the holds of ships on the transatlantic crossing from Europe to the New
World, and were raised by early colonists. Ironically, it is likely that the
Bourbon Red Turkeys, also known as Kentucky
Red and Bourbon Butternut Turkeys, were developed in Bourbon
County Kentucky, US in the late 1800's. They were developed by J. F. Barbee who
crossbred Buff, Bronze, and White Holland Turkeys.
Bourbon Red Turkeys have a light-gray beak, red to blueish
wattles, a black beard, and pink legs and toes. Toms weigh around 23 lbs and
hens weigh around14 lbs. They lay large potted cream and brown eggs.
The Bourbon Red Turkey breed was recognized by the APA in 1909.
also known as Cambridge Bronze Turkeys, are domestic turkey whose plumage has
an iridescent bronze-like sheen.
Bronze turkeys were developed by crossing domestic turkeys
brought from England, with wild turkeys. These matings produced a bird that was
larger and more robust than the European turkeys, and tamer than wild turkeys. Although
Bronze turkeys were created in the 18th century, the actual name was not used
until the 1830s, when a strain developed in the U.S. was named the Point Judith
Bronze. The name
Buff Turkeys are named for their buff-colored plumage,
Buff Turkeys were accepted into the Standard of Perfection
by the American Poultry Association in 1874, but had died out entirely by the
early 20th century. This was partly due to the difficulty in selectively
breeding the proper color pattern, and also to the rise of new commercial
breeds on the market.
In the 1940s, interest in a buff turkey was revived, and a
new strain of the breed, named the New Jersey Buff Turkey was created. However,
Tacchino Castano d'Italia Turkeys are very rare brown Italian turkeys. They
were selected by Prof. Raffaello Quilici at the Experimental Poultry
Observatory of Rovigo in 1960. They are almost extinct, but are being reconstituted
by Veneto Agriculture.
Their eggshell is slightly rosy and the eggs weigh 70-85 g. They
mature at seven year old. They are medium-large
(males weight 12-14 kg, females weight 5-7 kg). They have a dark brown coat,
light tarsus, and white skin.
Content and Photo Source: Agraria.org.
Dindon de Ronquières
Dindon de Ronquières
Turkeys, or Turkeys of Ronquières, are from Ronquières. Ronquières is a section of the Belgian town of Braine-le-Comte, located in the Walloon region.
Dindon de Sologne
Dindon de Sologne Turkeys (also known as the Black Turkey of Sologne, Black Sologne, turkey Sologne, or solognot)are
a medium-sized variety of French Turkey with black plumage and blue-black legs.
Dindon de Sologne Turkeys are hardy birds with a strong bright-red
head, large, well-stocked wattles, a strong beak, bright eyes, a long neck, and
a dense, broad chest. They are good layer (on
average 15 eggs).
Dindon du Bourbonnais
Looks very much like the Sologne Black although it is more
elegant. It is a vigorous turkey which carries itself proudly. It is lively and
fiery. Its plumage is deep black with a metallic but not bronze highlight (very
light bronze is tolerated in the tail cover feathers). Its black tarsus becomes
clear even pink with age. The male weighs 10 to 12 kg, the female 7 to 9 kg.
Dindon du Gers
Dindon du Gers, or the French Black Turkey, is a large bird
with black plumage with beautiful bronzer, green, and brown tones on its back.
The Hens are reliable brooders and are willing to take care
of the poults of other hens.
Gers Turkeys are rare and in danger of extinction.
Dindon rouge des Ardennes
Dindon rouge des Ardennes Turkeys, or the red Turkey
Ardennes, first arrive in the Ardennes to the 16th century.
Dindon rouge des Ardennes Turkeys were popular for a long
time in the Ardennes. For example, it was one of the most famous dishes served when
Charles IX , celebrated his wedding to Elisabeth of Austria. However, over time
it has become less popular and almost became extinct.
In 1985 Jean-Michel Devress decided to revive the variety,
and worked with local business to breed and promote them. In 1985, the
Ermellinato di Rovigo
Ermellinato di Rovigo Turkeys are from Veneto,
a region of northern Italy. They were derived from a mutation in the offspring
of crosses of local birds to American Narraganset Turkeys in 1958. But it was
good mutation and they were then selected for increased performance. The
Ermellinato di Rovigo is very rustic and well suited to pasture production.
They mature at 7 months and feather early.
They produce 70-100 eggs / year. The eggs are white to rose colored and they weight
70-80g. They are medium-sized (males weight 10-12
Midget White Turkeys are massively large black bird. Just
kidding, they actually are small and white, of course. They are the smallest
standard variety of turkey, toms weight
around 13 lbs and hens weight 8-10 lbs. Honestly they are only the size of a chicken!
Midget white turkeys were developed in the 1960s by Dr. J.
Robert Smyth at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. But there wasn’t the
expected demand for small turkeys and
they were not successful. Hey are now
classified as Critical by the American Livestock
Narragansett Turkeys are a cross between
eastern American wild turkeys and domestic turkeys. They are unique to North
America and are named for Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, US. They are raised for
commercial agriculture across the United States. They are the foundation of the turkey industry
in New England, US, and are especially important in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
They are also popular in the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest.
Narragansett Turkeys have black, gray, tan,
and white feathers. Sometimes they have
Nero D'Italia Turkeys were
developed by a group of breeders from Lombary Italy. It is believed that they
were developed from French Noir de Sologne Turkeys.
Nero D'Italia Turkeys are
small turkeys with iridescent black plumage. Males weight4-6 kg,
females weight 2,5-3,5 kg.
Content and Photo Source:
Parma e Piacenza
Parma e Piacenza Turkeys
are from the provinces of Parma and Piacenza, Italy. Their coloring is very
similar to Narragansett and d'Osca Turkeys.
Content and Photo Source: Agraia.org.
Royal Palm Turkeys are a breed of Turkey best known as an
ornamental bird with a unique appearance, largely white with bands of metallic
Royal Palm Turkeys first appeared in the 1920s on a farm in
Lake Worth, Florida, apparently as a cross between Black, Bronze, Narragansett,
and native turkeys. After years of selective breeding the Royal Palm was
finally accepted by the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection
The toms are noted for being non-aggressive, and the hens
The Slate Turkey, also known as the American Blue or
Lavender Turkey, is variety of turkey that is
ashy blue over the entire body, sometimes with a few black flecks. The slate coloring is the result of a combination of mutation (one
dominant and one recessive) .
The Slate variety was
accepted by the American Poultry Association in 1874. It has been popular in
exhibition circles and is gaining popularity in pastured poultry production.
Renewed interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flav
White Holland Turkeys are an old variety of domestic white
turkey. The White Holland originated from crosses of white European turkeys
imported to North America and crossed with native birds.
The White Holland was first recognized by the American
Poultry Association in 1874, and today is considered a heritage turkey breed. They are currently listed as threatened by The