What are the Best Turkey Breeds?

Raising turkeys can be easy and fun because they are social and love attention. However, there are a variety of breeds that one can choose from. Therefore ,your choice depends on the variety that suits your interest best.

Some are big enough for meat and are better raised for commercial purposes. Other breeds have colorful plumage and can be raised as pets because of their beauty. It is so fascinating when the toms strut and gobble fanning their tail feathers exposing their fleshy snood. This is a spectacular view worth watching.

Best Turkey Breeds

Depending on you as the farmer, there are different turkey varieties to choose from. This article takes you through some, and how they can be useful to you.

We will also try to answer some of the commonly asked questions about turkey breeds.

Beltsville Small White

This breed was developed in Beltsville Maryland in the 1930s. The birds are almost the same size as Midget Whites and are good meat birds.

However, they are blander than Midgets or any other heritage breeds and are known to be prolific layers. Mature female can incubate her eggs and hatch them successfully. They are known not to be social and are not very friendly compared to other heritage breeds.


Narragansett turkeys are a cross between East American wild turkeys and domestic turkeys. They trace their origin from the Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island in the US. This turkey breed is large in size hence ideal for meat.

They can be easily mistaken for Standard Bronze because they have almost similar markings. They are excellent layers of eggs and are known to be calm. In addition, they are good foragers and can do well on free ranging. Narragansett turkey hens make good mothers as they raise their young very well.

Hens attain weights of up to 18 pounds while toms can weigh up to 30 pounds.

Royal Palm

best turkey breeds

They are very popular for their beauty and are not bred for meat but rather for their appearance. Their black and white plumage gives them a very beautiful appearance.

They are known to eat insects a lot and they do fly easily. Royal Palms are very good at foraging and weigh in between 10 to 16 pounds.

Standard Bronze

The Standard Bronze is the most popular breed of heritage turkeys. They were developed after crossing turkeys from Europe and American wild turkeys.

The broad breasted bronze is a variation that is more commercial and most are now bred through artificial insemination just like the Broad breasted white.

Toms can attain weights of 25 pounds while hens can reach 16 pounds.

White Holland

This breed originated from Holland and moved with early settlers in the 1800s. They are large birds weighing between 20 to 30 pounds.

Because of their heavy weight, the hens are known to break their eggs but they are good setters and are very calm.

Midget White

The Midget White is a relatively new breed. It was developed in the 1960s by researchers in the University of Massachusetts. They are a cross of Broad Breasted Whites and the Royal Palm.

They are small in size and are popular for having meat rich in deep flavors. Toms weighs 13 pounds while females weigh 8 pounds.

The hens are good fence jumpers due to their small size. They also make good mothers because they raise their young very well.

Blue Slate

Blue Slates are also known as Lavender turkeys. They have slate gray plumage that falls in between white and black. They are among the beautiful heritage turkey breeds.

An adult Blue Slate hen can weigh 14 pounds while a tom can weigh 23 pounds.

Bourbon Red

best turkey breeds

Bourbon Red turkeys first originated in Pennsylvania and later the Bourbon county of Kentucky. They are large in size with chestnut coloration and light colored flight feathers.

They are an active breed but fairly docile in temperament with the hens getting broody easily and making good mothers. Bourbon red are known to have the best tasting meat among all turkey breeds.

Depending on the sex, they can weigh between 12 to 13 pounds.

Broad Breasted Whites

They are available in almost every country across the globe where turkeys can thrive. This is a modern breed and is raised commercially in farms.

They have maximum conversion of feed ratio to meat . Accordingly, they are preferred by most commercial farmers. The preference can also be attributed to speedy growth. They reach maturity early between 10 to 14 weeks.

They are very heavy and easily develop leg problems. Because of this, they can’t fly or mate naturally. They can only reproduce through artificial insemination.

They are only suitable for factory farm purpose and do not taste good like other turkey breeds.

Some Common Questions People ask about Turkey Breeds

How many breeds of turkey are there?

There are several heritage breeds of turkeys available that you can choose to keep. In commercial farming, you will find these breeds as they are popular. Go for a breed that you love and think it will suit you.

Which five fancy breeds are types of turkeys?

The Blue slate and Royal palm turkey breeds are known to have some fancy features. Their feather coloration makes most keepers have them as pets.

However, other breeds such as Narragansett, Standard bronze and Broad breasted whites can be kept for their fancy behavior. Watching toms gobbling, struting and fanning their tail feathers can be exciting.

What is the common breed of turkey?

The broad breasted turkey is the most common breed in commercial farms. They are mainly opted for their large breasts and thighs as they are the most loved parts of a turkey.

What is the rarest turkey breed?

Auburn a domestic breed of turkey also known as the light brown due to the reddish brown color of its plumage. This is the rarest of them all. It is in written records how rare this breed of turkey is and it is regarded as an endangered species.


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