Black turkey

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Black Spanish Turkey Tom.jpg
A Black Spanish tom at the National Colonial Farm
Other names Black Spanish, Norfolk Black
Country of origin Europe
Skin color black
APA Heritage breed

The Black, sometimes referred to as the Black Spanish or the Norfolk Black, is a breed of domestic turkey. The Black was developed in Europe from the Aztec turkeys originally brought from Mexico by Spanish explorers.[1][2] Despite the monikers of “Spanish and “Norfolk” (England), birds of this type live in many European nations. Originally, black colored turkeys were a relative rarity among New World flocks, but Europeans heavily selected for this trait until it became predominant.[3] The "Norfolk Black" is generally considered the oldest turkey breed in the UK

Black turkeys were sent in the holds of ships on the transatlantic crossing from Europe to the New World, and were raised by early colonists. Ironically, it is likely that the turkey consumed at the first Thanksgiving meal may have actually been from European birds, rather than wild turkeys native to the continent, though these descended from same bird.[4]

Later, Blacks were crossed with the wild turkey to help produce breeds such as the Bronze, Narragansett, and Slate. They remained a commercially farmed variety in the U.S. until the early 20th century, but fell out of favor after the development of the Broad Breasted Bronze and Broad Breasted White. Fairly common in Europe, they are considered an endangered variety of heritage turkey today by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy,[5] and are also included in Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste, a catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ (Ekarius 2007, p. 227)
  4. ^ (name & year)
  5. ^
  6. ^


  • Ekarius, Carol (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58017-667-5.
  • "Black Turkey". American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Retrieved 2011-11-23.
  • "Black Turkey". Slow Food USA. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
  • "Native Americans First Tamed Turkeys 2,000 Years Ago". The Discovery Channel. Retrieved 2012-07-07.