List of turkey breeds

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Varieties are often confused with breeds but for domestic turkeys, there is only one breed. Eight varieties of domestic turkey are recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) in its breed standard, the American Standard of Perfection. Many more exist as officially unrecognized varieties or as recognized varieties in other countries. The original genotype for domestic turkeys was for Bronze. All other color varieties are due to mutations from the Bronze genotype. This limited genetic variation may be the reason the APA originally categorized the various colors of turkeys as varieties rather than as breeds.

Turkey Feather Color Genetics Turkeys can inherit many traits from their parents including tameness, flightiness, rugged health, good mother ability, good setting ability, frequent egg laying and many others, including genes for color. The Bronze color genotype is written as: bb CC dd EE NN RR PnPn SlSl. The first pair of alleles, bb, indicates the base color is bronze. There are two other base color genes - BB gives a black base and blbl gives a black-winged base. The second pair of alleles also has three possibilities: C, c which expresses as white, and cg which gives gray. D is the dominant slate gene and can express partially as Dd and fully as DD. Sl is the recessive slate gene. e is the recessive brown gene. n is the recessive narragansett gene but it can also partially express as a color-diluting quality. r is the recessive red gene which can also partially express. pn is the recessive pencilling gene which expresses most obviously as vertical stripes on the tail feathers. Two genes are sex-linked: narragansett and brown, so the female genotype is written as n- and e-. Some varieties are simple variants of the Bronze genotype such as Bourbon Red with its single gene change of RR to rr (bb CC dd EE NN rr PnPn SlSl), and Black from bb to BB (BB CC dd EE NN RR PnPn SlSl). Auburn is a change from the Bronze genotype on the brown allele (bb CC dd ee NN RR PnPn SlSl) while Chocolate includes the brown gene and the black gene (BB CC dd ee NN RR PnPn SlSl). Blue Slate has had two alleles modified to BB CC Dd EE NN RR PnPn SlSl while Self-Blue is similar but has two dominant slate genes (BB CC DD EE NN RR PnPn SlSl). Royal Palm is a more complicated mutation with black-winged, gray, and narragansett genes (blbl cgcg dd EE nn RR PnPn SlSl) and Penciled Palm is a further modification of the Royal Palm genotype with the added recessive penciling gene (blbl cgcg dd EE nn RR pnpn SlSl). Two copies of the white gene completely mask the rest of the genotype so a White turkey can be anything hidden by the white. The grey gene adds a frosting effect to other genotypes. For further information on turkey feather color genetics, to see photos of each variety as poults and adults, and to use the turkey feather color calculator, go to "Porters Rare Turkeys" website.

APA varieties
Variety Year admitted
by APA[1]
Type Comments
Beltsville Small White 1951 Heritage breed Created by the USDA at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville Maryland,
Once very popular, it is now rare.[2]
Black 1874 Heritage breed Alternatively called Spanish Black or Norfolk Black or American Black.
Bourbon Red 1909 Heritage breed
Bronze 1874 Heritage breed The Broad Breasted Bronze, like the Broad Breasted White,
are nonstandardized commercial strains that do not qualify as a variety.
Narragansett 1874 Heritage breed
Royal Palm 1977 Heritage breed Largely ornamental, mostly white with distinctive black banding.
Slate 1874 Heritage breed Alternatively known as Blue Slate or Lavender.
White Holland turkey 1874

The only variety of turkey recognized by the EE in the European Standard of Perfection is the German Turkey. Currently, twelve varieties of domestic turkey are recognized by the European Association of Poultry, Pigeon, Bird, Rabbit and Cavia Breeders (EE). Other varieties with Standards of Perfection of European national associations are accepted.

EE varieties[3]
Variety (by National Standards) Variety (colour) country of origin Comments
American Blue ( slate turkey) gray/blue USA
American Bronze Brown/Black base color with white near some of the turkey's feather tips. USA
American Black USA Pink legs and horn-colored beak. Spanish Black and Norfolk Black have black pigmented legs and beak.
Beltsville Small White white USA
Dindon du Bourbonnais black F
Cambridge Bronze GB
Deutsche Pute D with EE-Standard of Perfection
Deutsche Pute blue D
Bourbon Red D
Bronze D
Cröllwitzer D ≈Royal Palm (USA)
Buff D
Bronce D
narragansett coloured D
Red D
Red Winged D
Black D
Black Winged Bronze D
British white D
French turkey (Dindon) porcelan coloured F
Dindon du Gers schwarz F
Tacchino castano d'Italia I
Tacchino nero d'Italia black I
Narragansett USA
Norfolk Black Turkey GB
Dindon de Ronquières fauve B
à épaulettes jaunes B Tricoloré du Colorado (F), ≈Sweetgrass (USA)
jaspé B ≈Royal Palm (USA), ≈Cröllwitzer (EE)
perdrix B Krefelder Pute (D)
White (blanc) B
Royal Palm black and white GB
Dindon rouge des Ardennes B/F a French breed, supposedly brought to Flanders in the 16th century from Mexico by the Spanish.
Dindon de Sologne black F
Czech turkey (Česká krůta) Czech Wild White-braided Turkey (Divocezbarvené bíle lemované) CZ
šedědivocezbarvene bíle lemované CZ
White Holland USA
English Turkey buff E

Other varieties not recognized by the APA or EE include the following:

  • Auburn or Light Brown is an extremely rare as its numbers are not considered high enough for inclusion in the Standard. An extremely rare variant of the Auburn is called the Silver Auburn.
  • Buff (or Jersey Buff) is a very rare heritage breed.
  • Chocolate breed is chocolate brown in color. Day-old poults are white-faced with chocolate bodies.
  • Midget White is a rare heritage breed sometimes confused with the Beltsville Small White.
  • Zagorje (Zagorski puran) is a Croatian variant of turkey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  2. ^ Ekarius, Carol (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58017-667-5.
  3. ^ "Listing Breed and Colour in the EE Standard". Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-06-11.