Bronze Turkeys
The Bronze has been the most popular turkey variety for most of American history. It originated from crosses between the domestic
wild ancestors.

Bronze-type turkeys were known by the late 1700s, but the name “Bronze” did not formally appear until the 1830s. Throughout the
1800s, breeders standardized the Bronze, and occasional crosses were made back to the wild turkey. The Bronze variety was
recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874.

The status of this variety has changed dramatically during the past century. In the early 1900s, a broader breasted Bronze turkey
was introduced from England into Canada, and then into the northwestern United States. These were crossed with larger, faster
growing US stocks and the resulting bird, the Broad Breasted Bronze, became the commercial variety of choice. Further selection
improved meat production, especially that of breast meat, growth rate, and other performance qualities. At the same time, changes
in conformation (especially the shortening of the legs and the keel) nearly eliminated their ability to mate naturally. For this reason,
most Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys have been artificially inseminated since the 1960s. Beginning in the 1960s the Broad Breasted
Bronze was replaced by the Broad Breasted White turkey. Processors favored the white-feathered variety because it produced a
cleaner looking carcass. Today, the Broad Breasted Bronze is no longer used by the turkey industry, but it is promoted for
seasonal, small-scale production.

Naturally mating, long-lived, slow growing strains of Bronze turkeys, known as the Standard Bronze, have been left even further
behind by the turkey industry. A few tenacious breeders maintained small flocks, participating in poultry shows, and raising a few for
family and friends. The Bronze was not used for commercial production for decades until the early 21st century, when renewed
interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flavor captured consumer interest and created a growing market niche.

The Bronze variety is stately and imposing in appearance. The standard weight for young toms is 25 pounds and for young hens is
16 pounds. Since, however, the Standard Bronze has not been selected for production attributes, including weight gain for years;
so many birds may be smaller than the standard. Careful selection for good health, ability to mate naturally, and production
attributes will return this variety to its former stature. Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys are also in need of conservation. Only a few
hatcheries maintain breeding flocks, and many of these are reducing their number. Marketing strategies need to be developed for
Livestock Conservancy Watch
List Status:
Threatened

Use: Meat

Egg Color: Pale cream to medium
brown with spotting

Egg Size: Large

Market Weight: 16 -25 lbs

Temperament: Highly dependent
on selection by breeder, Some
select for aggressive, others docile