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.
Bronze Turkey | Breed Profile
|Other Names||Broad Breasted Bronze, Standard Bronze|
|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, long lived birds, relatively slow to grow|
|Breed Size||Medium to large|
|Tom||Around 11.5 kg|
|Hen||Around 7.25 kg|
|Climate Tolerance||Almost all climates|
|Color||Black with an iridescent bronze-like sheen|
|Country/Place of Origin||North America|