Broad Breasted White Turkey: The Number 1 Meat Turkey

The Broad breasted white turkey is one of the most prolific meat turkeys in commercial poultry farming in the United States. Development of this turkey breed was fueled by the rising demand for turkey meat especially some highly prized parts like the breast and thighs.

Farmers wanted a breed that could offer more meat to meet the high demands in hotels and restaurants. Researchers were in a rush to come up with a bird that had broad breasts and huge drums because they were the only parts that were highly sourced.

History of the Broad Breasted White Turkey

After years of extensive research and several experiments, the breasted white turkey was born. The combined genes of White Hollands and the Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys produced an offspring which is this unique white turkey.

These birds quickly became famous and were loved by many farmers due to their ability to convert feeds into flesh with ease.

Stories of these birds quickly spread across the American continent about a white turkey breed that could produce more meat and mature fast than others. Sooner than later, Broad breasted white turkey poults were in a high demand with farms stocking them in numbers.

Up to date, the broad breasted white turkey breed is the most used breed in commercial farming due to their good production features and fast maturity. Additionally, these birds do very well when confined in barns as large flocks.


This is a white turkey breed and can easily be mistaken with other white turkeys like the White Holland breed and Midget White turkeys. The only exception that makes them unique is their large body size.

Broad breasted white turkeys are solid white in color with large breasts. They have short bones that are well covered by thick muscles making them heavy.

They have a black beard, white skin and pink legs. Their dewlaps, snoods and earlobes are red in color. These birds have medium sized strong beaks that are cone shaped for easier feeding.

Broad breasted white baby turkeys are yellow in color at hatching. These turkey chicks are covered in downy fur with complete body feathers taking up to 8 weeks to grow.

These turkeys have huge breasts that accounts for 70% of their weights making them heavy birds. Mature toms weigh 20kg while hens weigh 17kg.

They mature very early and are ready for market at the age of 14 to 16 weeks. This turkey breed has the best feed to meat conversion ration turning any single calorie they consume into flesh.

Due to their heavy weight, the broad breasted white turkeys cannot fly or mate naturally. For them to reproduce, they rely on artificial insemination because the toms are too heavy to mate.

In addition to that, the hens will not sit on their eggs to incubate them naturally. These ladies are too heavy and they end up breaking the eggs while some step on the newly hatched poults crashing them to death.

These birds never get a chance to exercise their flight muscles because they are raised in large numbers in a single barn. This denies them the ability to fly, jump over fences or roost on trees.

Because they are too heavy, these birds are prone to health problems like heart, back and leg issues. They can neither run nor walk fast and this makes them vulnerable to predation.

Hardiness and Temperament

Broad breasted white turkeys do not have a history of being aggressive towards their keepers. But according to the, toms can be aggressive at times but this will depend with an individual bird.

The hens are calm and docile and will get well along with you. Make an effort of tossing tasty treats like peas and nuts and call them sweet turkey names. With time, they will get used to you and follow you as you walk around showering love and affection.

This breed of turkey is heat tolerant as opposed to other breeds. Such a trait makes them to adapt easily in tropical climates where temperatures are much higher.

They also do well in cold climates meaning they are hardy turkeys. The poults require extensive and good management to improve their survival rate and lower the mortality rate.

Meat and egg production

Broad breasted white turkeys are excellent and number 1 meat turkeys. They have short bones that are covered in thick muscles. This turkey breed has one of the best feed to flesh convertion ratio and will reach market weight at 4 months.

These birds have huge breasts that are highly prized. Their broad breasts accounts for 70% of the total body weight making them good for meat compared to other turkey breeds.

They have a white body skin making the pin feathers less visible when butchered. This makes them loved since many consumers are annoyed by the tiny pin feathers which lowers the meat quality.

Broad breasted white turkey eggs hatch very well. However, just like with other turkey eggs they are expensive. This tells why turkey eggs are not used as food because they are meant for hatching and not eating.

Even for the prolific layers, turkeys will hardy lay more that a clutch of 100 eggs in a year. For the few grocery stores that sell them, these eggs are very expensive and not worth the prize.

These birds are seasonal layers. They will lay a bunch of 90 pale cream colored eggs in a year. The peak laying season comes in spring.

Life expectancy

Broad breasted white turkeys have a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years. Although these birds will live for just a few months because they will be butchered for meat. Bit when given a chance they can live longer.

Broad breasted toms will live for a shorter period than hens. Males are raised for meat where most turkey poults available for sale in hatcheries are always sexed males.

Hens will be spared for their eggs that are used for hatching. But after they have finished laying and exhausted, they will be culled too and end up fattening you and me.

Health issues

These turkeys have numerous health challenges that are brought about by their heavy weights. Most broad breasted white turkeys gain weight too quickly and become obese.

They have back problems and cannot mate naturally like others do. Their legs have joint issues because they cannot support the heavy body weight stacked on them.

Broad breasted white turkeys also suffer from respiratory and heart failure due to excess fat in them. This makes them have a very short lifespan and even if they are not slaughtered, they end up succumbing to these problems.

Additionally, their health issues is also brought by how they are kept. In most farms, these birds are raised in large barns where they do not get a chance to walk or flap wings to exercise flight muscles.

These birds will not even be allowed to roost like other types of poultry. When they perch on roosts, they bruise their breast meat lowering its quality.

Broad breasted turkey management

Raising broad breasted poults into turkeys requires some little knowledge about what they want. Go ahead and scroll to find out.


Unlike chickens, broad breasted white chicks require a feed with a high protein content. A game bird starter feed with 28% to 30% protein is the best for them.

The high protein is important because they have more muscle to build and are required to be ready for slaughter within 4 months.

Vitamins, minerals and grit should also be included in their diet. Grit helps in food digestion because it is used to grind food in the gizzard.

In addition to food, clean and fresh drinking water should be provided always. Water helps to keep their bodies hydrated and also plays a key role in digestion of food and body metabolism.


Broad breasted turkeys are mostly raised indoors in large barns and are not good at free ranging. They require a turkey coop that will provide shelter, security and keep them warm during the cold season.

The coop should have adequate space where they will live comfortably and free from congestion. For the hens, provide nesting boxes where they will lay their eggs.

Coops meant for the broad breasted whites do not have root bars. This is because these birds are too heavy to fly or jump and perch on them. They are allowed to spend the night on beddings like ducks.

Roost bars will bruise the breast and lower the meat quality of this favorite part. When they try to jump, they may fall and break their legs or even rapture their blood vessels leading to death.

You may put several hay bales in the coop to provide an elevated solid sleep structure for your turkeys. Lining the top with a layer of bedding is recommended and always replace it with some fresh when you notice it has poop on it.

Safety concern

These large birds have some few things they require that are a bit different with others. These are:

Ensure their coop is always clean by replacing old litter with new. Their white feathers require more attention if they are to remain clean.

Always keep your flock of broad breasted white turkeys separate from chickens. This will minimize the chances of contracting blackhead disease that is commonly spread from chickens to turkeys.

It is good if you keep the toms separate from the hens. When raised together, toms will attempt to mate and can easily bruise the hens back skin with their sharp claws or even pluck the back feathers.

Don’t chase these birds. They are heavy and cannot run for safety like Black Spanish turkeys will do. Chasing them will break their legs.

Final Thoughts

The Broad breasted white turkeys are very popular for the amount of meat they offer. This is a breed that has dominated the commercial farming over the years.

Continued breeding has resulted to development of heavy and overweight birds that cannot reproduce naturally. They are unable to walk properly or even fly due to weight.

Development of such breeds still continues as the demand of more turkey meat goes up due to the rising population.

These turkeys are suitable for both large and small scale settings. They are quite and good when integrated with other poultry.

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