Review of Heritage Turkey Breeds

July 2, 2019

Heritage turkeys are wonderful to raise if you want to raise turkeys that will have babies and produce meat for you.  This review of heritage turkey breeds will show you which ones will reproduce true and that you can raise on your own. Conventional, broad-breasted breeds do not breed and raise young on their own.  There are several heritage breeds, each with their own quirks and advantages.

Standard Bronze

            When you think of a traditional turkey, the standard bronze is probably what you imagine.  These are large turkeys with toms weighing about 35 pounds and hens weighing around 20 pounds.  They are a docile breed, despite their large size.  Hens aren’t as broody as some of the other heritage breeds but make good mothers once their poults hatch.

Bourbon Red

            These turkeys are a rusty brown color with white fans and tail feathers.  These are large turkeys, but slightly smaller than the Standard Bronze.  Toms weigh about 30 pounds and hens weigh around 12-14 pounds.  The Bourbon Red are excellent sitters and mothers.  They can become broody quite early.  This breed is very gentle and social.

White Holland

            These turkeys are solid white in color and were very popular until the broad-breasted breeds came along.  They are large birds; toms weigh around 30 pounds and hens weigh around 20 pounds.  This breed is exceptionally calm and sweet. Their sweet and calm nature make them an excellent choice for the novice turkey raiser.  The hens are good sitters but can break eggs simply because of their large size.

Beltsville Small White

            The Beltsville Small White is a smaller breed that is also solid white in color.  At one time, the Beltsville Small White was the most popular breed of turkey.  Toms weigh about 20 pounds and hens weigh about 12 pounds.  The hens are highly prolific and older hens make exceptional mothers.  The breed isn’t as social as the other breeds and tends to be more standoffish.

Midget White

            The Midget White is a small, solid white breed similar to the Beltsville Small White.  The Midget White is known for being an extremely flavorful meat bird and has become more popular lately due to that.  The toms weigh between 16-20 pounds and hens weigh between 8-12 pounds.  These turkeys are light and can get into the air easier than other breeds.  Many farmers report that Midget Whites are good ‘fence-hoppers’ due to the ability to get up into the air.  The Midget White hens lay large eggs for their small body size and can be prone to prolapse issues.  This is generally only seen in young laying hens. They are excellent sitters and make good mothers.

Interested in raising turkeys? Check out our other posts about raising your Thanksgiving dinner!
Quick Notes About Raising Turkeys
Raising Turkeys: How are they Different From Chickens?
Why We like Raising Turkeys On Our Homestead
Pheasants and Turkeys in the Backyard

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More about Shelby DeVore

Shelby is an agricultural enthusiast that shares her love of all things farming with her husband and two children on their small farm in West Tennessee. She is a former agriculture education teacher and is also the author of the blog Farminence, where she enjoys sharing her love of gardening, raising livestock and more simple living. You can see more of Shelby's articles at: www.farminence.com

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