The Bourbon Red turkey is a breed of domestic turkey from United States. It is named for Bourbon County, Kentucky and also for it’s unique reddish plumage.
Previously, it has alternatively been called Kentucky Reds and Bourbon Butternuts. And it was actually originated in Kentucky and Pennsylvania in the late nineteenth century.
The breed was actually created by crossing Buff, White Holland and Standard Bronze turkey. And it was first recognized as a different turkey variety by the American Poultry Association in 1909.
The Bourbon Red turkeys were selectively bred for utility traits as a meat bird. And throughout the 1930s and 1940s it was a very important variety in the turkey industry.
The breed declined after the commercial adoption of the Broad Breasted White, like most other turkey breeds. In the early 21st century, total population of the Bourbon Red turkey began to recover.
And currently the breed is one of the most popular heritage turkey breeds in the United States. The breed is still listed as ‘watch‘ by The Livestock Conservancy, despite it’s relative popularity as a heritage breed.
Currently there are fewer than 5000 breeding Bourbon Red turkey birds in the United States. And it is also included in Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste (a catalog of heritage American foods in danger of extinction). Read some more information about this domestic turkey breed below.
Bourbon Red Turkey Characteristics
The Bourbon Red turkeys are large birds with very beautiful appearance. Their feathers are of a dark base color with white primaries in the tail characterized by a soft red band and white flight feathers.
Both the wings and tail feature chestnut coverts. They have white flight and tail feathers and brownish to dark red plumage. On the toms, the body feathers may be edged in black.
Feathers on the breast and neck are of chestnut mahogany, and the undercolor feathers are light buff to almost white.
Beak of the Bourbon Red turkey is light horn at the tip and dark at the base. The throat wattle is red, which is changeable to bluish white.
The beard is black, and the shanks and toes are of pink color. The mature toms on average can weight around 15 kg.
And average live body weight of the mature hens is around 8.2 kg.
If you’re considering raising Bourbon Red Turkeys, providing proper housing for them is essential to their health and well-being. Bourbon Red Turkeys are hardy birds, but they do require a clean and dry living environment. When designing a housing system for Bourbon Red Turkeys, it’s important to keep a few key factors in mind.
Firstly, the housing should be large enough to provide plenty of space for the turkeys to move around and exercise. The recommended minimum space per bird is 10 square feet. The housing should also have good ventilation to prevent respiratory problems, especially in humid environments.
Secondly, the housing should be protected from predators. Bourbon Red Turkeys are vulnerable to predators such as foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and birds of prey. Therefore, the housing should have sturdy walls and doors that can be securely closed at night.
Thirdly, the housing should have proper bedding. Bourbon Red Turkeys require clean, dry bedding to avoid health issues such as footpad dermatitis. Straw, shavings, or hay are good options for bedding.
Fourthly, access to clean water is crucial for the health of Bourbon Red Turkeys. Water should be provided in clean containers that are large enough to accommodate the size of the flock.
Lastly, providing a sheltered outdoor area for the turkeys to roam and forage can be beneficial for their health and well-being. This can be a fenced outdoor area or a covered run attached to the housing.
Feeding Bourbon Red Turkeys is an important aspect of their care, as it plays a critical role in their health and growth. Bourbon Red Turkeys require a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to thrive. Here are some tips on feeding Bourbon Red Turkeys:
Provide a high-quality commercial feed
A good quality commercial turkey feed should make up the bulk of a Bourbon Red Turkey’s diet. The feed should contain at least 20% protein, and it’s important to choose a feed that is specifically formulated for turkeys. It’s important to note that not all poultry feeds are suitable for turkeys.
Supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables can provide additional vitamins and minerals to the turkeys’ diet. Some good options include apples, berries, carrots, and leafy greens. It’s important to offer these in moderation, as too much can upset the turkeys’ digestive system.
Offer access to clean water
Clean, fresh water should always be available to the turkeys. It’s important to change the water regularly to prevent contamination.
While treats can be a fun addition to the turkeys’ diet, it’s important to limit them to prevent overfeeding. Treats should make up no more than 10% of the turkeys’ diet. Some good options include mealworms, crickets, and other insects.
If possible, allowing the turkeys to free-range can provide them with additional nutrition and exercise. They can forage for insects, seeds, and other natural foods. However, it’s important to keep them in a safe and secure area to protect them from predators.
Breeding Bourbon Red Turkeys requires careful planning and consideration to ensure success. Here are some tips on Bourbon Red Turkey breeding:
Choose healthy birds
The first step in Bourbon Red Turkey breeding is to select healthy birds. Choose birds that are free from any signs of disease or deformity. It’s also important to choose birds that have good body conformation and exhibit traits that are desirable for breeding.
Allow birds to mature
Bourbon Red Turkeys should be allowed to mature before breeding. Males should be at least 1 year old and females should be at least 8-9 months old before breeding. Breeding birds that are too young can result in poor fertility rates and unhealthy offspring.
Provide proper nutrition
Providing proper nutrition to breeding birds is essential to their health and the health of their offspring. Breeding birds require a diet that is higher in protein and essential nutrients. It’s also important to provide clean water at all times.
Monitor breeding activity
Monitor breeding activity closely to ensure that mating is occurring and that males are not becoming aggressive towards females. Too much aggression can result in injury or death of the females.
Incubate eggs properly
Bourbon Red Turkey eggs should be collected daily and stored in a cool, dry place until they are ready to be incubated. The incubation period for Bourbon Red Turkey eggs is approximately 28 days. It’s important to ensure that the incubator is set at the correct temperature and humidity levels to ensure successful hatching.
The Bourbon Red turkey is a meat breed, and it is raised mainly for meat production.
The Bourbon Red turkeys are hardy and very beautiful birds. They are a very attractive variety for either exhibition or just for the backyard.
These birds are very active foragers, and they generally do very well in a pasture production system. Either as purebreds or if crossed with white turkey, their foraging ability remain same.
In case of breeding, they are highly dependent on selection by breeders. Some birds are of docile temperament, and some can be aggressive.
Today the breed is raised mainly for meat production. However, review full breed profile of the Bourbon Red turkey in the chart below.
|Breed Name||Bourbon Red|
|Other Names||Previously called as Kentucky Reds and Bourbon Butternuts|
|Breed Purpose||Mainly meat|
|Special Notes||Very strong and hardy birds, docile temperament, but some birds can become aggressive, highly dependent on selection by breeder, today raised mainly for meat production, very attractive variety for either exhibition or just for the backyard, active foragers, foraging ability remain same if crossed with white breeds|
|Tom||Around 15 kg|
|Hen||Around 8.2 kg|
|Climate Tolerance||Almost all climates|
|Color||Red with white|
|Country/Place of Origin||United States|
Bourbon Red Turkey Facts
Here, we will take a look at the best interesting and unique facts about Bourbon Red turkeys.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are a heritage breed that was developed in Bourbon County, Kentucky in the late 1800s.
- They are named after their distinctive red plumage, which is mottled with white and black feathers.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are a medium-sized breed, with mature toms weighing around 25 pounds and hens weighing around 16 pounds.
- They are docile and friendly birds, which makes them a great choice for backyard flocks.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are excellent foragers and are known for their ability to find food in a variety of environments.
- They are also good at roosting, which means they are able to sleep in trees or on high perches to avoid predators.
- Bourbon Red turkeys have a reputation for being excellent mothers, as they are attentive and protective of their young.
- They have a slower growth rate than commercial breeds, which means their meat has a richer flavor and a firmer texture.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are a dual-purpose breed, which means they are suitable for both meat and egg production.
- They are a seasonal layer, which means they only lay eggs during the spring and early summer.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are known for their distinctive gobble, which is deep and resonant.
- They are also known for their drumming, which is a low-pitched sound that toms make by vibrating their feathers.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are hardy birds that are able to withstand cold temperatures and harsh weather conditions.
- They have a lifespan of around 7-10 years, which means they are a long-lived breed.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are susceptible to some health issues, including blackhead disease and coccidiosis.
- They require a high-protein diet, which can include grains, legumes, and insects.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are a slow-growing breed, which means they can take up to six months to reach maturity.
- They are known for their distinctive flavor, which is rich and slightly sweet.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are often used in gourmet cooking, as their meat is considered a delicacy.
- They are also used in artisanal charcuterie, where their meat is cured and smoked to make turkey bacon and other products.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are recognized by the American Poultry Association as a heritage breed.
- They are also listed as a “recovering” breed by the Livestock Conservancy, which means their population is increasing but they are still considered rare.
- Bourbon Red turkeys are a beautiful and unique breed that are well-suited to backyard flocks and small-scale farming. Whether you are looking for flavorful meat or a friendly and docile pet, these birds are sure to make a great addition to your homestead.
Tips for Raising Bourbon Red Turkey
Raising Bourbon Red turkeys is a very enjoyable and profitable business. These beautiful birds are known for their flavorful meat, friendly personalities, and hardiness. However, raising turkeys requires knowledge, care, and attention to detail. Now we will share 23 tips for raising Bourbon Red turkeys.
- Start with healthy chicks. When selecting Bourbon Red turkey chicks, make sure they are healthy, active, and free from deformities.
- Provide a warm and dry brooder. For the first few weeks of their lives, Bourbon Red turkey chicks require a warm and dry brooder with a heat lamp, bedding, and fresh water.
- Feed them a high-protein diet. Turkeys require a high-protein diet, especially during their early stages of growth. Feed them a diet that includes a mix of commercial feed, grains, legumes, and insects.
- Offer fresh water at all times. Turkeys need access to fresh water at all times, especially during hot weather.
- Provide plenty of space. As they grow, Bourbon Red turkeys require plenty of space to move around and exercise. Make sure their housing and outdoor area are large enough to accommodate their size and number.
- Protect them from predators. Turkeys are vulnerable to predators such as foxes, coyotes, and birds of prey. Make sure their housing and outdoor area are secure and protected from predators.
- Provide shade and shelter. Turkeys need access to shade and shelter from extreme weather conditions such as heat, cold, wind, and rain.
- Keep their housing clean. Regularly clean and disinfect their housing and outdoor area to prevent the spread of disease and parasites.
- Monitor their health. Keep an eye on their behavior, appetite, and droppings to identify any signs of illness or injury.
- Vaccinate them. Consult with a veterinarian or poultry expert to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for Bourbon Red turkeys.
- Practice good biosecurity. Practice good biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of disease, including keeping visitors and other animals away from the turkey flock.
- Introduce new birds gradually. If introducing new turkeys to the flock, do so gradually to minimize stress and aggression.
- Provide perches and roosts. Turkeys like to perch and roost, especially at night. Provide sturdy perches and roosts in their housing and outdoor area.
- Keep them active. Provide toys, puzzles, and other forms of enrichment to keep Bourbon Red turkeys active and engaged.
- Train them to be handled. Handle Bourbon Red turkeys gently and regularly to get them used to human interaction and make them easier to manage.
- Allow them to free-range. Bourbon Red turkeys are good foragers and enjoy free-ranging in a safe and secure outdoor area.
- Provide nesting boxes. If raising turkeys for eggs, provide nesting boxes with clean bedding and fresh hay.
- Collect eggs regularly. Collect eggs regularly to prevent them from becoming dirty, cracked, or eaten by predators.
- Incubate eggs carefully. If hatching Bourbon Red turkey eggs, follow proper incubation procedures to ensure a successful hatch.
- Socialize them with other animals. Turkeys can be socialized with other animals such as chickens, ducks, and goats, as long as they are introduced gradually and supervised.
- Prepare for breeding season. Bourbon Red turkeys mate during the breeding season, which occurs in late winter or early spring. Make sure you are prepared for breeding, including providing nesting boxes and monitoring their behavior.
- Butcher them humanely. When it’s time to butcher Bourbon Red turkeys for meat, do so humanely and in a way that minimizes stress and discomfort for the birds. Consult with a veterinarian or poultry expert for guidance.
- Store and prepare their meat properly. Bourbon Red turkey meat is delicious and flavorful, but it must be stored and prepared properly to prevent foodborne illness. Follow safe handling and cooking procedures to ensure the safety and quality of the meat.
Related Queries & FAQs
There are lots of questions and queries related to Bourbon Red Turkey. Here we are trying to list the common questions and queries about this beautiful turkey breed. and trying to answer them. Hope you will find answers of your questions or queries. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.
What is a Bourbon Red Turkey?
A Bourbon Red Turkey is a breed of domestic turkey that is named for its distinctive feathers, which are a rich, mahogany color with white flight feathers.
What is the origin of Bourbon Red Turkeys?
Bourbon Red Turkeys were developed in the late 1800s in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
What is the size of a Bourbon Red Turkey?
Bourbon Red Turkeys are a medium-sized breed, with mature males weighing between 25 and 33 pounds and mature females weighing between 12 and 16 pounds.
Are Bourbon Red Turkeys good for meat?
Yes, Bourbon Red Turkeys are known for their excellent meat quality and are popular for use in gourmet cooking.
Are Bourbon Red Turkeys good for egg-laying?
Bourbon Red Turkeys are not typically used for egg production, as they lay fewer eggs than other breeds.
What is the lifespan of a Bourbon Red Turkey?
Bourbon Red Turkeys can live up to 10 years in ideal conditions.
Are Bourbon Red Turkeys good for backyard flocks?
Bourbon Red Turkeys can be a good choice for backyard flocks, as they are hardy and have a calm temperament.
What is the average price of a Bourbon Red Turkey?
The price of a Bourbon Red Turkey can vary depending on the breeder and the location, but they typically range from $50 to $100.
How do you raise Bourbon Red Turkeys?
Bourbon Red Turkeys require a balanced diet, access to clean water, and a clean and dry living environment. They also need protection from predators.
Do Bourbon Red Turkeys need a lot of space to roam?
Bourbon Red Turkeys do need space to move around and exercise, but the exact amount of space required can depend on the number of birds and the size of the enclosure.
What kind of climate is suitable for Bourbon Red Turkeys?
Bourbon Red Turkeys can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but they prefer a moderate climate with access to shade and shelter.
How long does it take for Bourbon Red Turkeys to mature?
Bourbon Red Turkeys typically take 24 to 28 weeks to reach maturity.
What is the ideal temperature for Bourbon Red Turkeys?
Bourbon Red Turkeys can tolerate temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but they prefer temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do Bourbon Red Turkeys need special care in the winter?
Bourbon Red Turkeys can handle cold temperatures, but they do need protection from wind and dampness.
What kind of bedding should be used for Bourbon Red Turkeys?
Bourbon Red Turkeys need clean, dry bedding such as straw, shavings, or hay.
Are Bourbon Red Turkeys good foragers?
Bourbon Red Turkeys are good foragers and can find much of their own food if given the opportunity to free-range.
What do Bourbon Red Turkeys eat?
Bourbon Red Turkeys require a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They can eat commercial turkey feed, as well as fruits, vegetables, and grains.
What predators are a threat to Bourbon Red Turkeys?
Bourbon Red Turkeys are vulnerable to predators such as foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and birds of prey.
Are Bourbon Red Turkeys prone to any health problems?
Bourbon Red Turkeys are generally healthy and hardy, but they can be susceptible to respiratory infections and parasites.
What is the ideal breeding age for Bourbon Red Turkeys?
The ideal breeding age for Bourbon Red Turkeys is between 1 and 3 years old.
How many eggs do Bourbon Red Turkeys lay in a year?
Bourbon Red Turkeys lay an average of 80-100 eggs per year.
What is the incubation period for Bourbon Red Turkey eggs?
The incubation period for Bourbon Red Turkey eggs is approximately 28 days.
What is the difference between Bourbon Red Turkeys and other turkey breeds?
Bourbon Red Turkeys have a distinctive appearance with their mahogany feathers and white flight feathers. They are also known for their calm temperament and excellent meat quality. Compared to other turkey breeds, Bourbon Red Turkeys may have slightly lower egg production and a longer time to reach maturity.