Hello Little Bend friends,
In today’s turkey talk blog we are going to talk about the varieties of heritage turkeys. Currently as listed by the American Poultry Association there are eight turkey breeds and they are as fol-lows:
1. The Beltsville Small White
2. The Black
3. The Bourbon Red
4. The Bronze
5. The Narragansett
6. The Royal Palm
7. The Slate
8. The White Holland
However the livestock conservancy lists these additional breeds which include the
1. The Chocolate
2. The Jersey Buff
3. The Lavender or Lilac
4. The Midget White
Each variety of heritage turkey has certain attributes which should be considered if someone would want to raise them. Throughout the turkey talk pages we will talk about each Heritage tur-key variety so that all of our Little Bend friends can learn about each heritage turkey variety.
However; I will only briefly touch base on each variety and I encourage everyone to go to the livestock conservancy website at www.livestockconservancy.org research them on the Internet for more in depth information on each variety.
Since Little Bend Heritage Farm raises the Bourbon Red variety I’m going to start with them and then throughout this blog I will eventually get to all the other bird varieties.
The Bourbon Red turkey is named for where it came from which is Bourbon County in Ken-tucky. It originated in the late 1800s and was developed by gentleman named J. F. Barbee. Mr. Barbee took crosses from the Bronze, White Holland and Buff turkeys. After years of breeding Mr. Barbie was able to produce good sized dark red turkeys with white wings and tail feathers. He originally called them Bourbon Butternuts but for some reason that name did not stick so he renamed them Bourbon Reds which did and the breed flourished.
Consequently the Bourbon Red variety was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1909. The Bourbon Reds were selected for their heavy breast and rich flavored meat. They were an important commercial variety until the 1940s when the White Broad Breasted factory bird came into popularity and the Bourbon Red was unable to compete. However since the 2000’s renewed interest for their wonderful fitness, ability to thrive on pasture, their survivability, and along with their superior flavor has renewed consumer interest and created a niche market for this variety.
Bourbon Reds have a beautiful brownish to dark red plumage with striking white wing and tail feathers. They have a light red bar along the end of the tail feathers. Their red wattle is a striking red which turns to blue when they’re excited or during mating. Bourbon Reds are excellent at mating naturally, have a wonderful disposition, and have the ability to brood eggs but do not ex-hibit excessive broodiness. They make an attractive turkey for exhibitions and with their won-derful taste they make an excellent table turkey as well. Although they have dark brown feath-ers they have white pin feathers which is desirable as they leave no residue after they are butch-ered. Standard weights for Bourbon Reds are 23 pounds for young toms and 14 pounds for young hens. They are currently listed on the watch list by the livestock conservancy but with re-cent interests there is hope that this turkey will thrive as a commercially viable breed.
God bless friends and we’ll gobble at ya later!