Saturday, January 11, 2014

Royal Palm Turkey

Royal Palm Turkey
Last spring we (I) decided to add some turkeys to the flock here at Prairie Home Farm.  Looking around the poultry order hatcheries, they all wanted a person to order a minimum of 15-25 turkey chicks.  I didn't want that many chicks all at once without knowing how they were going to fit in.  So, I started searching the poultry social sites like BackYard Chickens and found a kind person in Pennsylvania that was OK with shipping only 6 turkey chicks.  We finalized the deal and boom we had turkey chicks on the farm.  In the bringing the chicks were slow growing, but by the end of summer they were near full size thanks to the abundance of grasshoppers and crickets. Thus far, the turkeys have caused one additional chores or issues.  Even on the coldest of days and nights, yes these birds having access to the inside of the coop, insist of roosting outside.  We just went through the 2014 Polar Vortex where our temperatures were pushed to -30° with windchill down in the -50° range and the turkeys had no trouble managing the cold.  One of the females does frequent the coop more that the others.  The young males (Jake) are now puffing up and strutting!  The young females (Jenny) are paying no noticeable attention to the activity.  They are more focused on eating and sleeping.  The Jakes are so funny, not only do they strut for the Jennys, they strut for anything and anyone watching.   The goats get a lot of attention as they don't shy away.

Over at the Turkey Jake a Facebook page, one can follow the adventures of TurkeyJake, and browse the images of the other turkeys and flock mates.

So, what is a Royal Palm turkey?

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.  The Royal Palm is a strikingly attractive and small-sized turkey variety. The first birds in America to have the Palm color pattern appeared in a mixed flock of Black, Bronze, Narragansett, and Wild turkeys on the farm of Enoch Carson of Lake Worth, Florida in the 1920s. Further selection has been made since then to stabilize the consistency of color and other characteristics. As an anonymous breeder wrote to Feathered World magazine in 1931, “Turkeys of this type of coloration do crop up by chance where different color varieties are crossed . . . but it takes years to perfect their markings.” The Royal Palm was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1971. It is similar to a European variety called the Pied, Crollwitz, or Black-laced White, which has been known since the 1700s.

Royal Palm turkeys are white with a sharply contrasting, metallic black edging on the feathers. The saddle is black which provides a sharp contrast against the white base color of body plumage. The tail is pure white, with each feather having a band of black and an edge of white. The coverts are white with a band of black, and the wings are white with a narrow edge of black across each feather. The breast is white with the exposed portion of each feather ending in a band of black to form a contrast of black and white similar to the scales of a fish. The turkeys have red to bluish white heads, a light horn beak, light brown eyes, red to bluish white throat and wattles, and deep pink shanks and toes. The beard is black.

Royal Palms are active, thrifty turkeys, excellent foragers, and good flyers. Standard weights are 16 pounds for young toms and 10 pounds for young hens. The Royal Palm has not been purposefully selected for either growth rate or muscling, being used primarily as an exhibition variety.

The Royal Palm lacks the commercial potential of the other varieties, but it has a role to play on small farms, for home production of meat or where its ability to control insect pests would be of value.

Wikipedia offers this definition; The Royal Palm is a breed of domestic turkey. One of the few turkeys not primarily selected for meat production, the Royal Palm is best known as an ornamental bird with a unique appearance, largely white with bands of metallic black. Primarily kept as an exhibition bird, or on small farms, it lacks the size for large scale commercial use. Toms usually weigh 16 to 22 lbs and the hens 10 to 12 lbs.

A relative newcomer among turkey breeds, the bird first appeared in the 1920s on a farm in Lake Worth, Florida, apparently as a cross between Black, Bronze, Narragansett, and native turkeys.[1] Years of selective breeding followed to stabilize the coloring, and the Royal Palm was finally accepted by the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1971. In Europe, a turkey with similar coloration is sometimes called the Cröllwitzer, Pied, or Black-laced White.[2]

Along with the decline of most heritage turkey breeds after the adoption of the Broad Breasted White by the turkey industry, Royal Palms are a very endangered breed today. The breed is classified as being on "watch" status with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. It is also included in Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste, a catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction.

The toms are noted for being non-aggressive, and the hens are particularly good mothers.

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