2012 - Volume #BFS, Issue #12, Page #16[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story ]
Midget White Turkeys Provide Eggs And Meat“Midget White turkeys are excellent small farm birds. They’re not as big as most other heritage turkey breeds. Their temperament is great, kind of dog-like,” says Jeannette Beranger, research and technical programs manager for American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC). “Their personality and egg production stand out from other turkey breeds.”
The breed dates back to the early 1960’s when the late Dr. J. Robert Smyth at the University of Massachusetts worked on developing a smaller turkey breed. It didn’t take off at the time, but in the 1990’s one of Smyth’s students, Dr. Bernie Wentworth, continued the work, and the breed has become more popular among growers who don’t want to raise larger breeds.
Midget White turkeys have white bodies, red to bluish white necks, and pinkish white legs and toes. Toms average 13 lbs., and hens average 8 lbs. by 28 weeks of age. Besides producing meat, the breed lays more eggs than other breeds, averaging 60 to 80 eggs a year. Research at the French Culinary Institute in New York City revealed that the eggs are perfect for rich pastry crèmes, desserts such as Crème Brulée and Deviled eggs.
Midget White turkeys are available through many hatcheries. Breeding stock averages $75/bird. Expect to pay $7 to $10 for day-old poults. As with all Heritage turkey breeds, they require a higher protein diet (28 percent or more) to start. Keep the brooder clean, Beranger recommends, and make sure it’s evenly heated so there aren’t overly hot or cold spots. Introduce the birds slowly to the outdoors so they can acclimate to their new surroundings and to bio-organisms present in the soil.
“If chickens are on the property, Heritage turkey poults are susceptible to blackhead, a deadly protozoan disease for turkeys. But if you introduce them slowly, they can build up a resistance to it over time,” Beranger adds.
Fans of the breed include hobby farmers who appreciate that they eat bugs in their flower gardens, orchards and vineyards.
ALBC offers a free turkey husbandry manual as well as a manual about how to choose breeding stock, for growers interested in raising their own birds. Download the manuals by visiting http://albc-usa.org/EducationalResources/turkeys.html.
“This breed is a lot of fun and perfect for small farm production,” Beranger says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, P.O. Box 477, Pittsboro, N.C. 27312 (ph 919-542-5704; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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