We are proud members of the Livestock Conservancy. On our organic farm we work to preserve and protect endangered heritage livestock. We currently raise Navajo Churro sheep which are listed as threatened through the conservancy and Chocolate Turkeys which are critically endangered.
Today we are adding three new livestock breeds to our farm – the Midget White Turkey, Bourbon Red Turkeys and Silver Appleyard Ducks.
Below is more information on each of these amazing breeds of livestock.
Midget White Turkey – Critically Endangered
The Midget White turkey was created in the early 1960s by Dr. J. Robert Smyth at the University of Massachusetts. It was developed to meet an anticipated demand for a small version of the broad breasted turkey. It is a dual purpose bird for eggs and meat. These birds were added to the University of Wisconsin’s poultry program, which continued to refine and then fix the standard for the Midget White variety we know today. Dr. Wentworth is largely credited in preventing the breed’s extinction. He was a graduate student of Dr. Smyth’s. As Dr. Wentworth prepared to retire in the late 1990’s, the university decided to disperse the flock. Some were passed to poultry hobbyists, but the majority of the flock was sent to the USDA poultry facility in Beltsville, Maryland. The Beltsville flock was dispersed in April of 2005 and the remaining birds were distributed to poultry enthusiasts located in the eastern US. The survival of this breed now lies completely in the hands of private individuals.
The Midget White, with its broad breast, has the appearance of a miniature of the commercial Broad Breasted White turkey. This quality provides the variety with good meat production and makes the Midget White a fine table fowl. The variety was developed from a cross of a commercial Broad Breasted White turkey and an exhibition Royal Palm. Midget White toms average 13 lbs., hens average 8 lbs. In Wisconsin, the birds were selected for higher egg production, fertility, and hatchability. The hens laid an average of 60-80 large eggs per year, weighing only three to five grams less than those of the broad breasted white turkey. Hatchability was 75-80%. Adult Midget Whites are less likely to take flight as they get heavier. These diminutive turkeys are unusually friendly and will approach people and pets without much concern.
Bourbon Red Turkey – Threatened
The Bourbon Red turkey is named for Bourbon County in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region where it originated in the late 1800’s. It was developed by J. F. Barbee from crosses between Buff, Bronze, and White Holland turkeys though the initial steps actually took place in Pennsylvania, where Buff turkeys of darker red hues – called Tuscarora or Tuscawara – were bred and then taken west with settlers bound for Ohio and Kentucky. These dark Buff turkeys would be the primary foundation for the new variety.
he Bourbon Red variety was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1909. It was ambitiously selected and promoted for utility traits, including a production-type conformation with a heavy breast and richly flavored meat. The Bourbon Red was an important commercial variety through the 1930s and 1940s. Since 2002, renewed interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flavor of the Bourbon Red has captured consumer interest and created a growing market niche.
Bourbon Red turkeys are handsome. Standard weights for Bourbon Reds are 23 pounds for young toms and 14 pounds for young hens. They are active foragers, and would probably do well in a pasture production system, either as purebreds or when crossed with white turkeys. They also present an attractive carcass when dressed, since the light pinfeathers leave no residue of dark pigment showing the feather follicles as with the Bronze. Documentation of performance information is urgently needed so that this variety can be promoted for use in sustainable agriculture as well as for backyard breeders.
Silver Appleyard Ducks – Threatened
“This big, colorful duck was developed by Reginald Appleyard at his famous Priory Waterfowl Farm near Bury St. Edmund, England. His goal, as stated in a 1940’s farm brochure, was to make a beautiful breed of duck, with a combination of beauty, size, lots of big white eggs, and a deep long, wide, breast.” (Holderread, 2001). Appleyards were brought to the United States in the 1960’s and became available to the public in 1984. The American Poultry Association accepted the breed for inclusion to the American Standard of Perfection in 2000.
The Silver Appleyard is a large, sturdily built duck that weighs between 8-9 pounds. This breed’s carriage varies from 15 to 25 degrees above horizontal and its body has a “blocky” conformation. “Applyards are being raised for exhibition, pets, decoration, eggs, and gourmet roasting ducks.” (Holderread, 2001) They are one of the best layers among the heavyweight ducks, averaging 220 to 265 white shelled eggs per year. Appleyard meat is lean and flavorful. They are active foragers with calm temperaments and will tend to stay close to home if well fed.
God Bless! L. Davis