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Turkey origin

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The name "Turkey" stems from the word "tuka" which means peacock in India.

Wild Turkeys were around long before Europeans colonized America. Wild turkeys should not be confused with their cousins, domestic turkeys (the ones you eat for Thanksgiving). Wild turkeys can be found living wild in North America. They are the largest game birds found in this part of the world. Domestic turkeys can also be found throughout North American, however they are not find in the wild, they are raised by humans for food consumption. The turkey is one of the most popular birds in North American.

Turkeys have the following Taxonomic Classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia

  • Phylum: Chordata

  • Class: Aves

  • Order: Galliformes

  • Family: Phasianidae

Genus: Meleagris

Sub family Meleagrididae

species: Meleagris gallopavo ( domestic turkey) Agriocharis oscellata ( Wild Turkey)

There are two species of turkey: Agriocharis oscellata from southeast Mexico and Meleagris gallopavo the North American.

The Meleagris gallopavo is the important commercial bird. There are six subspecies sometimes referred to as turkey breeds of the Meleagris gallopavo (M.g.)

1 ).M. g. sylvestris- Eastern Wild Turkey ( 2) .M. g. gallopavo- South Mexican turkey

3 ) M. g. osceola- Florida turkey

(4).M. g. intermedia- Rio Grande turkey (Illustration by Diane Jacky)

5 ) M. g. merriami- Merriam's turkey (6) M. g. mexicana - Gould's turkey


There are currently eight breeds of domestic turkeys recognized by the American Poultry Association,

:"following breeds are Standard and Heritage turkeys which were also on Slow Food's Ark of Taste

The Narragansett Turkey - A turkey breed named for its area of origin on Narragansett Bay Rhode Island – plumage black ,undercover of all section very darkslate , shanks and toes salmon in color.

American Bronze - Also called Bronze and "unimproved Bronze

Bourbon Red Turkey - Developed in Bourbon county .Toms have rich, dark ,chestnut mahogany color with black edging at back,wings and breast.tail pure white , body and fluff shades of brownish red.

The following breeds are Standard and Heritage:

White Holland - Bred in Europe from North American Wild Turkey stock and brought to America, web ,fluff and quill of feathers in all section pure white ,shanks and toes pinkish white

Black. Surface plumage is lustrous , metallic black throughout , undercover of all section dull black , shanks and toes pink in adults and slaty black in young ones.

Slate - Named for its color which resulted from a genetic mutation.slaty blue plumage , shanks and toes pink in adults and deep pink in young one.

Beltsville Small White - One of the smallest breeds and very attractive .white with black edging on its feathers.shanks and toes pinkish white.

The following breed is non-Standard but is Heritage and is on the "Ark of Taste:"

Jersey Buff - Named for its color and area of origin (New Jersey).

The following breed is non-Standard but is Heritage:

White Midget - Developed in the 1960's. This bird was developed by crossing a Broad Breasted White

Royal Palm: Toms have pre white color edged with metallic black at the neck,wings and breast,tail,white color of body plumage .hens are black bands in plumage.
The following breeds are non-Standard and are not Heritage

:Broad-Breasted Bronze - Introduced from England to Canada in the 1900s.plumage copperish bronze , tails feathers in a white edging of pure white , unexposed feathers at the breast wings and tails black.shanks and toes dull black.

Broad Breasted White -. Bred from the White Holland and Broad Breasted Bronze. Similar to white Holland.


The domestic turkey is probably descended from the South-Mexican turkey (Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo) and domestication started approximately 2500 years ago by North American native peoples. The turkey was introduced to Europe during the sixteenth century and has undergone intensive selection in the last 40 years to produce a fast-growing meat bird. The majority of commercial turkeys are white-feathered, though there are some bronze- and black-feathered breeds.


The seven subspecies are found in a variety of habitats, ranging from forests to plains, and require cover for nesting and trees for roosting and protection from predators. They spend the majority of the daytime on the ground searching for food, fly only in short bursts and are non-migratory, but some subspecies move between breeding and winter areas. Turkeys are diurnal. Where trees are available most wild turkeys rest at the top of special roost-trees at night. The domestic turkeys that cannot fly can be kept inside a fenced in yard, much like a fence that would keep in a dog or a goat. The domestic turkeys that can fly should have some type of net to keep them in.

Life Expectancy:

The maximum recorded lifespan for a turkey in captivity is twelve years and four months. For turkeys living in the wild, the maximum is less than ten years, but the average life expectancy of a turkey, is males  just over 2 years and just over 3 years for females. Some domestic male turkeys often grow too large and too heavy to carry their own weight after their first year. Domestic turkeys bred for food consumption were not bred to live over one year.


Wild Turkeys (full grown) Weight: Males 8-24 pounds (3.6-11 kg.), females 7-16 pounds(3.2-7.2kg.

Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo, the average weight of a male is 7,5 kg and of afemale is 4Kg.


The social structure of wild turkeys is complex. They form a cohesive social structure and communicate by means of calls, tactile means and visual displays. Within the different groups linear social hierarchy is established. According to the season males and females form groups and subgroups of different size and function. Male and female turkeys live in large separate flocks out of the breeding season (winter-flocks). In spring these flocks split into small bands of adult males (male-bands) and larger groups of females (display-flocks). As the breeding season approaches, the males establish territories or strutting areas. Females become solitary and move freely from territory to territory. Territorial males attract females by vocalising: gobbling and pulmonary puffs and carrying out elaborate movements and tail-fanning. Where groups of young males associate, they will display. Domestic turkeys have retained most aspects of courtship behaviour


. A male turkey is called a Tom or sometimes called a Gobbler, and a female turkey is called a Hen. In some types of wild turkeys males and females can be told apart by the breast feathers. Males' breast feathers have black tips, females are brown. Some types of domestic turkeys must be artificially bred, other types can breed on their own. For a wild turkey the breeding season is in March and April. To attract females, in both the wild and domestic turkey, the male will gobble and strut, fanning out his tail feathers. They gobble, grunt, and strut about shaking their feathers. This dance attracts the female for mating. Males breed with more than one female. Even the domestic turkeys that cannot mate without human intervention, the male will still strut around trying to attract a female.


The incubation period of a turkey egg is about 28 days. Nesting Period is mid-April through mid-June; peak hatch time is about mid-May. Wild turkeys will lay on 8-16 eggs at a time, 12 is the average. Baby turkeys are called poults. Wild turkey poults cannot fly until they are about 2 weeks old.


The domestic turkeys that cannot fly can be kept inside a fenced in yard, much like a fence that would keep in a dog or a goat. The domestic turkeys that can fly should have some type of net to keep them in.

Wild turkeys on the other hand can fly very well. Unless you keep their wings clipped you need a totally enclosed cage. Two turkeys can be kept in a 90 square foot and at least 6 feet high area. However the more room you can give your turkey the better. If you have turkeys that can fly their enclosed cage should have chicken wire surrounding it on all sides and top with a wood frame with a stiff metal dog wire of about 3-4 feet tall along the bottom to keep out other animals and to keep the turkeys in. Turkeys that can fly should be provided with a roost. A shelter should be provided to shield the birds from the rain, wind, hail, sleet and snow. Whether it be a simple tarp covering the roosting area or an actual barn stall or small building. The best type of floor is a dirt floor. Hay can be provided as a ground cover. Cement can be cleaned well, however it is hard on the turkeys feet. A wood floor can get pretty messy as the loose poop sinks into the wood.

Feeding and Watering

Feed and water should be available to the growing turkeys at all times. Some flocks seem to have trouble finding the feed early, resulting in death loss from “starve outs.” Some producers put marbles or aluminum foil balls in drinkers and feeders for the first two weeks to attract the turkey poults and start them on feed and water. Adequate feeder and drinker space ensures that all birds in the flock have an opportunity to eat and drinkTurkeys should be fed pellets as their main diet. they can also be fed fruits, and vegetables. Turkeys will eat some kinds of leaves, weeds, wild nuts, acorns, grass, grapes, kale, and all berries that humans will eat, Russian olive berries, dogwood tree berries, wild grapes, wine berries, sassafras tree berries, honeysuckle berries and even poison ivy berries.. Wild turkeys also eat insects and small animals. To prevent blackhead disease and other parasites, newly hatched poults (baby turkeys) should be fed a medicated 28% Turkey Starter for the first 8 weeks. From 9 to 14 weeks they should be fed 20-21% Turkey Grower... You may have to feed them things such as crickets, mealworms, earthworms, spiders and beetles, which can be caught by hand or bought at pet stores or bait shops.. Domestic turkeys will usually take very well to the pellets and very young turkeys should be fed crushed pellets until they get big enough to handle the full pellet. If you plan on having your hens lay eggs they need extra calcium. Feeding crushed oyster shells is a great source of calcium. Turkeys need small rocks or grit for their gizzard to grind food, for example dirt, sand, egg shells or oyster shell. Fresh water should always be provided either in some type of bowl or a poultry water dispenser which can be purchased at a farm store.

Management :

Preferred wild turkey habitats, especially for Eastern birds, are large tracts of mature forests (bottomland and upland hardwoods, pine-hardwood, pine) interspersed with open areas (pastures, hayfields) that provide diversity for feeding and reproduction. Turkey habitats can often be improved through certain land management practices. Improvements can include thinning and control- burning pine stands, planting food plots, and creation and maintenance of permanent grass/forbs openings in heavily forested areas. Before implementing habitat improvements, a landowner should determine management objectives, inventory existing habitats, consult with a professional wildlife biologist, and develop a comprehensive management plan.


* One use is for arrows. *second use is for making a indian hat

the american natives used to make their plumes and to make earrings and decorations like collars bracelets etcetera.* To make a fancy head gear.

or stickem in your cap,or make a qriting quill at the end of them otherwise stuff them in a pillow lol...*To stabilize arrows and adorn ceremonial dress

Common Diseases of turkeys

Feather Picking and Cannibalism

Symptoms : Birds may pluck their own feathers or the plumage of other birds

Causes : This include over crowding, bright light, dietary on your farm before ordering

Insect Attack

Bite welts are found around the head and occasionally under feathers

Cause : Lack of shelter is the most common cause


This condition manifests as a hard swelling of the center of the foot pad and/or bottom of toes, cracking and infection of the underside of the feet.

Cause: Stress, overcrowding, poor sani-tation, poor diet, roosts that are placed too high and flooring that is too hard or rough lead to Bumblefoot. Rocks, glass, and sharp objects in the birds’ area can also cause this condition.


This condition includes a number of problems including the soften-ing of leg bones, enlarged hocks, slipped tendons, twisted shanks, bowlegs, misshapen hock, sprad-dle-leg, and lameness.

Causes: Poor nutrition, lack of sunshine,genetic predisposition and being raised on slippery surfaces will cause birds to be prone to this condition.


This is Perosis in young poults. With this condition they lose con-trol of one or both legs so that the limb or limbs are held out sideways.

Cause : Inbreeding, poor nutrition of par-ents, poor incubation practices, and poor quality or slick smooth flooring will cause Spraddle-leg.

Fowl Typhoid

Fowl Typhoid is caused by the bac-terium Salmonella gallinarum. It has many similarities to Pullorum, with symptoms such as poor hatch, poor quality of poults, increased thirst, listlessness, droopiness, huddling, pale heads, green-yellow diarrhea, pasty vent, fever, high mortality, early deaths without signs, and in later stages, swollen hock joints.

Cause: This organism can be spread via the down, shells, and excretions of infected birds.

Control of diseases:

Following basic sanitary and biosecurity measures is often the most important preventative of the vast majority of diseases and ailments that can occur with turkeys. Vaccination may be a good option for protecting flocks against some diseases.building and maintaing the health of flock is the strongest defence against diseases.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia American Standard of Perfection. American Poultry Association

Penn State Department of Poultry

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