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Beautiful Breed: Harvest Gold Turkeys
"They're the most beautiful turkey imaginable," says Dr. Tom T. Walker about the new breed of turkey he has developed called Harvest Gold. He wasn't sure what he'd get when he started breeding Black Spanish to Regal Reds, both heritage breeds.
  Harvest Gold turkeys have gold-fringed, multi-colored neck and shoulder feathers and a burnt copper fan heavily peppered with black. Tail feathers have greenish bronze bands with an old gold outer edge.
  It took three years to establish a couple of breeding lines between two pairs of solid black and red birds. It was a serendipitous find.
  "I was working on Regal Reds to get them back to the right size for mating," Walker says, explaining the breed had been thought to be extinct when a breeder found some in Iowa. They had gotten too large for egg fertility, so Walker experimented with breeding it to another solid color turkey, then breeding that offspring with another solid red turkey.
  He was surprised - but delighted - when that mating resulted in the "new" bird.
  "They're a strong, calm, even-tempered breed," says Walker. "They lay 16 to 18 eggs, do a good job setting on eggs, and are good mothers."
  Breeding a pair of Harvest Golds doesn't ensure all the poults will be Harvest Golds, however.
  "Like some other color patterns of turkeys, the Harvest Golds produce only a percentage of poults that are Harvest Golds," Walker says. On average, 60 percent are Harvest Gold, and the remaining 40 percent are divided between solid red and Blackwing Bronze breeds.
  Walker, 82, sells Harvest Gold poults (and other heritage varieties) to breeders from his two lines of birds. An experimenter and turkey breeder since he was in junior high, Walker finds satisfaction in his accomplishment. Even his wife, who doesn't get excited about turkeys, appreciates his Harvest Gold breed.
  "She says that peacocks don't have anything to strut about compared to the Harvest Golds," he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dr. Tom T. Walker, 278 Porter Road, Bastrop, Texas 78602 (ph 512 925-7941; tomnmarg @onr.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2