Bourbon Red Turkeys
Bourbon Red Turkeys are a heritage breed. The earliest record of this breed is from Kentucky in the 1800s. They were named after Bourbon County in Kentucky. They were called Bourbon Butternuts at first. They are a result of cross breeding Buff, Bronze and White Holland turkeys. They are bred for meat and were at one time considered the best table bird. They are considered on the most popular breeds. However, since the industrialization of the turkey industry and the development of the broad breasted white turkey heritage breed turkeys have lost popularity. Today Bourbon Red Turkeys are listed as threatened on the Livestock Conservancy Board. The turkeys weigh 14 to 23 pounds as adults. A flock of turkeys is called a rafter. They forage for grass and fruit. An adult male is called a Tom or gobbler. A juvenile male is a jake. The tom has a snood attached to the upper part of his beak. This snood can tell you what his temperament is at any given time. He will relax it and it will turn dark red when he is feeling amorous or proud. If it is short and white he is likely in a cautious mood and is on alert. The tom also has a beard that sticks out the front of his chest. It is typically dark black and whisker like to touch. It is actually a feather that hangs down. This grows longer the older the male is, approximately 1 to 2 inches each year. A Tom's beard chan get up to 12 inches long. Males can be quite aggressive especially during the breeding season. We have yet to find a docile Tom turkey but the hunt goes on! The females are called hens and hatchlings are called poults. July is typically breeding season. Though our hen has hatched poults as early as May. They lay large eggs that are pale cream to medium brown with brown spots on them. The hens are good mother birds and have good instincts. Our hen is extremely docile and as you can see loves little ones. She especially loves preschoolers. She follows the groups of children all over the farm hoping for a pet or hug. What a ham - I mean turkey!