White turkeys are among the best turkey breeds that you can have in your backyard. These birds will add color and also entertain you in various ways.
The powerful strut by toms fanning their tail feathers and exposing their long fleshy snoods is eye thrilling.
These birds demonstrate their masculine features as a sign of dominance and as a way of wooing females. As they do this, the show catches your attention and the focus is shifted into entertainment.
These birds are a great choice to keep. They will provide meat and eggs. In addition to that, their nitrogen rich manure will fertilize your vegetable garden.
Talking white turkeys, there are four pure white breeds that are known. Scouring and digging through various sources I have prepare a list of the four breeds that are white for you.
Keep scrolling my turkey friend.
The Midget White turkey is a relatively new breed. It was developed in the University of Massachusetts in 1960. Their development was prompted by the rising population in the United States at the time that made the demand for turkey meat sky rocket.
The idea was to get a breed that could mature fast and offer much meat. However, these birds led to frustrations as they weighed much less than it was anticipated.
They are a cross of Royal Palms and the Broad Breasted Bronze. These birds have deep and rich flavors than other turkey breeds.
After just a few years after they were introduced in the farms, farmers disliked their output making them loose favor and they were out after they were replaced by other breeds.
These birds are very small compared to the size of normal turkeys. They weigh much like a heavy chicken with toms weighing 16 to 20 pounds and hens 8 to 12 pounds. Their size and weight makes them adept fence jumpers and skilled at roosting on fences.
They mature fast and are good at laying eggs. Midget whites have good mothering skills and will take good care of their baby turkeys well.
Currently, they are listed as endangered species by the Livestock Conservancy and are in the blink of extinction.
Broad Breasted White
The Broad Breasted White turkeys are a very popular breed of turkey in commercial farming. They have a high feed to meat conversion ratio reaching maturity quickly than other common breeds.
These birds are ready for market after a period of 16 weeks. At this time these birds can weigh 13kgs. Their pin feathers are less visible when the carcass is dressed and have more breast meat that accounts for about 70% of their weight.
Due to their heavy weight, they are not able to fly or even mate naturally but rather rely on artificial inseminated in order to reproduce.
They are prone to leg and back problems due to their heavy nature. Broad Breasted hens lay eggs that have a high hatchability making them so pricy and using such eggs for food.
They are white on color with a large frame and white skin. These birds have small and short bones that are covered in muscles and fat. Broad Breasted White turkeys are a cross of Broad breasted bronze and White Holland.
Beltsville Small White
The Beltsville White turkeys are another common breed among the white turkey. Their development kicked off in 1930s in the United States when farmers expressed their desire on a meat bird with no dark pin feathers.
These turkeys are small and white in color. They easily feed small families and fit in small refrigerators where other large meat birds will not fit whole.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, these birds were extensively reared but later ran out of favor among farmers and restaurants after the development of the Broad Breasted White (Source).
These turkeys don’t weigh much as hens weigh 10 pounds while toms weigh 17 pounds. They are rare and currently they are listed as endangered. Plans underway to breed them back being in progress in the US and Canada.
The White Holland is a very old breed whose country of origin is in the United States. These birds were domesticated here in the 1900s where they were popular meat birds.
These birds were used to develop the Broad Breasted Whites after crossing them with the Broad Breasted White. In 1874, White Holland turkey breed was officially recognized by the American Poultry Association.
Toms weighs 36 pounds while the hens weigh about 20 pounds. These birds have small breasts, long legs and are super hardy being able to adapt easily.
Today, they are listed as endangered by the American Poultry Association and are almost extinct with very few species remaining.
Tips on raising white turkeys
Just like chickens, white turkeys have their own requirements too. These are the things that should be done to meet their requirements and ensure a happy and healthy flock.
Food is one of the basic requirements for turkeys. These birds need a well-rounded course to ensure they get all the nutrients they require in their bodies.
Baby turkeys require a protein rich diet if they have to make it to the next stage of life. This is the reason these little critters are fed on a gamebird feed because it contains 28-30% protein.
Some farmers will go ahead and supplement their diet with dried mealworms or scrambled eggs. These supplements are fed as a treat in moderation because they are not their main diet.
Turkeys are very sensitive to moldy and rotten food. You should know what not to feed turkeys to avoid ill health or death because of food poisoning.
White turkeys also need fresh and clean water to drink. Always make sure they their waterers are full to prevent them from dehydrating because of lack of water.
These birds are social and will require good gifts and treats to make them happy. Toss tasty treats like cracked corn, strawberries, grapes, cherries, asparagus and cabbage.
Your white turkeys need to have a good coop. This will protect them from harsh weather and keep them from turkey predators like wild dogs which hunt them for food.
The turkey coop should be big enough for them to fit in well without congesting. Its floor should be strong so that predators will not burrow under and sneak in.
Put a thick layer of a dry and draft free bedding material. I prefer to use pine shavings or chopped straw because my girls cannot swallow them and suffer from impacted crops.
Additionally, make sure the doors are big enough because these birds are big. This will ensure they move in and out freely without getting stuck and hurting their backs and legs.
Roost bars are necessary because they birds love to roost just like chickens. Wood is the best material for a roost because it is a poor conductor in winter.
However, the wood roosts should be strong enough because turkeys are big and heavy to support their weights. If you are raising the broad breasted white turkeys, roosts are not important.
These birds are raised for meat and have large breasts which are easily bruised by roost bars. Do not forget to have enough nesting boxes where the white turkey hens will lay their eggs.
Denying them a nesting area will encourage them to nest in the bushes. Ventilation is vital to allow free air circulation. This will discourage ammonia building up and keep them free from respiratory issues.
Care and Hygiene
The quality of care you give to your birds is very important. Sick birds should be taken to a bird vet for treatment. They should be isolated from the rest to avoid disease spread.
White turkeys are infested by external as well as internal parasites. Common external parasites are lice and scaly mites. They suck blood, damage the growing feathers and bruise the skin.
External parasites should be controlled by use of diatomaceous earth powder. This should be either added in their dirt bath or dusted directly on their bodies in small amounts.
Another threat to turkeys are internal parasites like gape, thread and tapeworms. These will live inside their bodies where they rely on what the birds have eaten.
To control turkey worms, seek advice from a qualified bird vet on the right wormer to administer. Additionally, avoid tossing their foods on beddings because they will collect worm eggs together with food.
During the cold winters, these birds will need extra care. They are susceptible to cold especially the poults and you will need to confine them in a heated coop.
Also, look for those heavy breeds like the breasted whites because they cannot mate naturally. They will require artificial insemination if they have to reproduce.
These birds will sometimes grow big and develop health issues because of obesity.
White turkeys are good birds. These critters will not only add color but also ensure you have a reliable source of meat and those jumbo eggs for breakfast.
They also make good pets and you will enjoy entertainment from a tom gobbling, struting and fanning his tail feathers. In addition to that, these birds will also enrich your garden with their rich manure.
Turkey farming is also a good venture. These birds are highly valued in the United States especially during Thanks giving where millions are butchered for meat.
Most white turkeys are calm, friendly and social meaning they will not harm your kids. They are excellent foragers and will help control weeds and other insect pests on your backyard.
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