The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) is pleased to announce the release of a new Heritage Turkey resource entitled Selecting Your Best Turkeys for Breeding. This is the second publication in the ALBC Master Breeder series, which is a collaboration of known master breeders, researchers and ALBC staff working together to codify knowledge and historic information about heritage breed selection, husbandry and breeding.
With growing consumer demand for tasty Heritage Turkeys to grace their holiday tables, more farmers are trying their hands at raising them. However, farmers often find themselves struggling to find production information specific to raising these colorful cousins of the Broad-Breasted White turkey found in supermarket freezers. Since the industrialization of turkeys in the late 1950s, much of the knowledge and printed information on how to select, raise and breed traditional turkeys has slowly been lost.
The information found in Selecting Your Best Turkeys for Breeding was once widely available at a time when small-scale agriculture and pastured-poultry keeping was commonplace. Changes in agricultural practices have caused this information to be largely lost to subsequent generations.
“ALBC recognized that there was a knowledge gap when it came to raising and breeding Heritage Turkeys and many other rare breeds,” said ALBC Research and Technical Program Director Marjorie Bender. “If we want to establish a sustainable market for these birds, we’ve got to give the farmers the tools they need to raise and breed quality animals.”
As people once again become interested in the systems suited to rare breeds, it is extremely important that the knowledge once used to successfully manage these systems be made available again. ALBC is pleased to lead the effort to re-educate the entrepreneurial farmer in the production of one of America’s agricultural treasures, the Heritage Turkey.
As recently as 1997, Heritage Turkeys were in danger for extinction — remembered only by the “old-timers.” At that time, only 1,335 breeding birds were found in the United States. Today, thanks to the efforts of breeders, producers and consumers, the Heritage Turkey’s numbers are on the rise, with a reported 2006 census number of 10,404 birds.
Download and view ALBC’s new publication, Selecting Your Best Turkeys for Breeding.
Photo from American Livestock Breeds Conservancy