The Bronze turkey is a breed of domestic turkey which was originated from crosses between the domestic turkeys brought by European colonists to the Americas and the eastern wild turkeys they found upon their arrival.
It had been the most popular turkey breed throughout most of American History. Name of the breed refers to it’s plumage, which bears an iridescent bronze-like sheen.
The Bronze turkey was known by the late 1700s, but the name ‘Bronze’ didn’t formally appear until the 1830s.
Breeders standardized the Bronze throughout the 1800s, and occasional crosses were made back to the wild turkey. And the Bronze variety was officially recognized by the American Poultry Association in the year of 1874.
The Bronze turkey breed was divided into two distinct types. Those were the Standard Bronze, and the Broad Breasted Bronze.
A great deal of confusion exists about the difference between Standard and Broad Breasted Bronzes, or that there is any difference at all.
Collectively, the Standard and Broad Breasted varieties are simply called the Bronze turkey. Read some more information about this domestic turkey breed below.
Bronze Turkey Characteristics
The Bronze turkey is a medium to large sized birds with stately and imposing appearance. They are very beautiful birds and well known for their unique plumage.
These birds were selected for their large size, and the much bigger birds became known as the Broad Breasted Bronze, and pretty small birds were Standard Bronze turkey.
Apart from the difference in size, the plumage of the Standard Bronze is generally lighter and more lustrous than that of the Broad Breasted Bronze.
Both varieties have a brown color which is highlighted by shades of copper and blue-green, and the plumage overall is very similar to that of the wild turkey.
Average live body weight of the mature Bronze hens is around 7.25 kg. And the mature tom’s average live body weight is around 11.5 kg. Photo and info from The Livestock Conservancy and Wikipedia.
The Bronze turkey is mainly raised and used for meat production.
The Bronze turkeys are strong and hardy birds. They are long lived birds and mate naturally (but today they have lost the ability to mate naturally due to their large size, and the Broad Breasted variety that is in existence today is maintained entirely by artificial insemination).
They are relatively slow to grow. They were not used for commercial production for decades until the early 21st century. But the breed went on to dominate the commercial turkey industry for 20 years after it’s development (until the Broad Breasted White turkey became the breed of choice).
Today both Broad Breasted and Standard varieties are listed on The Livestock Conservancy’s conservation priority list.
Total numbers of the Broad Breasted variety are unclear today, but the Standard variety is listed as ‘Critical’. And today both varieties are used for meat production. However, review full breed profile of the Bronze turkey in the following chart.
|Broad Breasted Bronze, Standard Bronze
|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, long lived birds, relatively slow to grow
|Medium to large
|Around 11.5 kg
|Around 7.25 kg
|Almost all climates
|Black with an iridescent bronze-like sheen
|Country/Place of Origin
Bronze Turkey Facts
Here are the top interesting and unique facts about Bronze turkeys.
- Bronze turkeys are a heritage breed of turkey, which means that they are a purebred strain that has not been crossbred with other breeds.
- They are a large breed of turkey, with mature birds weighing up to 30 pounds or more.
- Bronze turkeys are known for their distinctive appearance, which includes iridescent bronze feathers, a red head, and a beard of black feathers on the chest.
- They are highly prized for their meat, which is tender, flavorful, and well-suited to a wide range of culinary applications.
- Bronze turkeys are also valued for their eggs, which are larger and more flavorful than those produced by other turkey breeds.
- They are hardy birds that are well-suited to a range of climates and environments, making them popular with farmers and homesteaders.
- Bronze turkeys are excellent foragers, able to find much of their food in the wild.
- They are also good at hunting and catching insects and small rodents, which helps to keep pest populations under control.
- Bronze turkeys are social animals that tend to form close-knit flocks.
- They are highly intelligent and can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks, including following voice commands and performing tricks.
- Bronze turkeys have a distinctive vocalization, which includes a range of sounds from soft purrs to loud gobbles.
- They are excellent mothers, with a strong maternal instinct and a natural ability to care for their young.
- Bronze turkeys have a long lifespan, with some individuals living up to 10 years or more.
- They are highly resistant to many common poultry diseases, making them a popular choice for backyard flocks and commercial farms alike.
- Bronze turkeys are classified as a “recovering” breed by the Livestock Conservancy, meaning that their numbers are increasing but they are still at risk of becoming endangered.
- They are a popular breed for exhibition at agricultural fairs and poultry shows.
- Bronze turkeys are typically raised free-range or pastured, which allows them to live a more natural and healthy lifestyle.
- They are an important part of the cultural heritage of the United States, and are celebrated in local traditions and folklore.
- Bronze turkeys are often used in sustainable farming practices, as they help to maintain the health and fertility of the soil.
- They are a popular choice for holiday meals, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Bronze turkeys are versatile birds that can be raised for meat, eggs, or breeding stock.
- They are easy to care for and require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal choice for beginners and experienced poultry farmers alike.
- These turkeys are a beloved and iconic symbol of the American countryside, and their rich history and distinctive characteristics make them a fascinating and unique breed of poultry.
Tips for Raising Bronze Turkey
Here aresome of the best tips for raising Bronze turkeys, from choosing the right breed and housing to feeding and healthcare.
Choose the Right Breed
The first step in raising Bronze turkeys is to choose the right breed. As a heritage breed, Bronze turkeys are known for their hardiness and resilience, but they also have specific physical and behavioral characteristics that should be taken into account.
Before deciding to raise Bronze turkeys, it is important to do your research and choose a breed that is well-suited to your environment and farming goals.
Provide Adequate Housing
Bronze turkeys require adequate housing in order to thrive. The ideal housing for Bronze turkeys should be spacious and well-ventilated, with ample room for the birds to move around and access to fresh air and sunlight. It should also be protected from predators and inclement weather, with a secure roof and sturdy walls.
Provide Ample Food and Water
Bronze turkeys require ample food and water in order to maintain their health and wellbeing. They should have access to clean, fresh water at all times, and their food should be high-quality and nutritionally balanced.
Bronze turkeys are omnivores and require a diet that includes both plant-based and animal-based foods, such as grains, seeds, fruits, and insects.
Provide Adequate Exercise
Bronze turkeys are active birds that require ample exercise in order to maintain their health and vitality. They should have access to a spacious outdoor area where they can move around and forage for food, as well as indoor space for shelter and protection.
Implement Disease Prevention Measures
Bronze turkeys are generally hardy and resistant to many common poultry diseases, but they can still be susceptible to certain illnesses and infections.
To prevent disease outbreaks, it is important to implement measures such as regular cleaning and disinfecting of the housing area, vaccination programs, and careful monitoring of the birds for signs of illness.
Provide Adequate Lighting
Bronze turkeys require adequate lighting in order to maintain their health and wellbeing. They should have access to natural sunlight or artificial lighting that mimics natural daylight patterns. This can help to regulate their circadian rhythms and ensure that they are getting the proper amount of rest and activity.
Monitor and Maintain Body Condition
Bronze turkeys should be regularly monitored and their body condition maintained in order to ensure their health and wellbeing. This includes regular weighing and monitoring of body condition scores, as well as careful observation of their behavior and activity levels.
Provide Adequate Nesting and Brooding Space
Bronze turkeys require adequate nesting and brooding space in order to reproduce and raise their young. The ideal nesting area should be spacious and well-ventilated, with ample nesting materials such as straw or hay.
The brooding area should be warm and protected from predators, with a heat source and adequate space for the young birds to move around.
Implement Biosecurity Measures
Bronze turkeys are susceptible to certain diseases and infections that can be introduced into the flock through contact with other birds or contaminated equipment.