Heritage Turkeys
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Breed Facts

Status:
Critical

Use:
Meat

Egg Color:
Pale cream to medium brown with spotting

Egg Size:
Large

Market Weight:
14 – 23 lbs

Temperament:
Highly dependent on selection by breeder, Some select for aggressive, others docile

Chocolate Turkey

Chocolate turkeyThe history behind the Chocolate turkey is somewhat vague, but they were common in the Southern U.S. and France before the Civil War which caused a great decline in turkey breeding. Large numbers of breeders were lost during the war and breeding popularity never recovered. The whole population was reduced to twelve birds before they started to make a comeback. Due to the lack of breeding birds then, most chocolate turkeys today are not pure and are carriers of Bronze and Narragansett genes; some may carry Bourbon Red as well. 

The name Chocolate describes the color of its feathers, shanks and feet, which are a solid milk chocolate color in adult birds. The chocolate coloration is caused by a combination of the black and brown genes. The gene for black (BB) interacts with the sex-linked gene for brown (e). The genotype for a purebred chocolate is BBee for toms and BBe- for hens. Any bronze patterns and/or white barring, light colored spots in the wings or white tipping in the feathers is a fault in this variety, however is common. Chocolates are one of the largest heritage turkey varieties and are known to be very gentle. Chocolate turkeys are good mothers and chicks are born with coco bodies and white heads.
 
The meat is flavorful, but not all that different for your average turkey. Chocolates do produce more meat than some other heritage varieties due to their large size with mature weights of toms approximately 33 lbs. and hens 18 lbs.  Although larger in size, their health and mobility is not affected. Chocolates are still critically endangered.


You may be interested in...

                                                         

How to Raise Heritage Turkeys on Pasture
- The Livestock Conservancy
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  Selecting Your Best Turkeys for Breeding
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  Storey's Guide to Raising Turkeys
- Don Schrider
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