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Some interesting facts about heritage turkey...

I was reading Selecting Your Best Turkeys for Breeding last night from the the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and came across some interesting facts.

1.  I've talked about this before, but modern commercial turkeys can't reproduce.  They have to be artificially inseminated for the line to carry on.  Crazy, huh?  It makes me sad for those turkeys because isn't that what life is about?  Foraging, play fighting and a little reproducing on the side...

Anyways, back in the 1950s-60s was when life started to change for turkeys.  Turkeys were being selected only on their ability to convert feed to breast meat.  This was great for consumers who weren't fans of dark meat as they got more of the white meat.  On the down side, when you select for only one trait, other traits start to fall to the way side.  Turkeys simply lost the ability to mate naturally.  Having a broad breasted or double breast turkey made it difficult for males to mount females for reproduction.  To compensate for the decrease in fertility rates, the turkey industry began artificially inseminate.

Now, I know people artificially inseminate cattle, sheep and people, but doesn't it seem wrong that we are reproducing a species that without our help would go extinct?  The whole thing seems silly, but what it's really about is money.  People don't want turkeys with small breasts, they want that big Butterball turkey that they see on TV.  It seems to me that we have a lot of education to do in order for people to see the value in Heritage Turkeys. 

2.  I'm off my soap box now and on the subject of wattles!  What's a wattle you may ask?  It's that lovely little piece of skin underneath the beak that droops down...like this...

From Dogbreedinfo.com
The piece of skin that goes over the beak is called the snood.  And below the wattle is the caruncle.  Now here's where it gets interesting.  Caruncles can change color and size depending on the mood of the turkey.  The snood over the beak will also change size and length according to turkey's mood.  Isn't that crazy?  Wouldn't all the men in the world love this?  It's kinda like a mood ring for a turkey.  Now imagine a body part on a woman changing colors with their mood, like color changing fingers or ears...might make life easier for certain dense men. 

3.  It's also interesting to note that blue eyes in a turkey is not a wanted trait.  They are homozygous for blindness, which is never good.  So, if I was a turkey I would probably be culled on the account of my blue eyes...

Next up on the reading list is How To Raise Heritage Turkeys on Pasture.  Fascinating...I know!


My poor buddy was trying to take a nap today and I couldn't stop snapping pictures of him...he's just so cute!

And if you don't already know, Girl Scout Cookies are in!  Yummy...peanut butter patties...

Yeoman  – (March 1, 2011 at 8:10 PM)  

Have you read the Yeoman Farmer (not the Yeoman Lawyer, my blog, but the Yeoman Farmer) blog? I believe he might have an entry about heritage turkeys. He also raises geese.

We here very much enjoy another type of heritage turkey and goose, which my son and I harvest, but they're volunteers, so to speak. People who haven't had the more natural product, farm or wild, don't know what they're missing.

agirlonafarm  – (March 2, 2011 at 7:44 AM)  

I haven't, I will have to check his blog out. So, you're a hunter huh? Jon has always wanted to learn how to hunt, especially with a bow and arrow. But there is just never enough time in the day...

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