Bronze

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The Bronze has been the most popular turkey variety for most of American history. It originated from crosses between the domestic turkeys brought by European colonists to the Americas and the eastern wild turkeys they found upon their arrival. The hybrid vigor of this cross resulted in turkey stocks that were larger and more vigorous than the European birds, and they were also much tamer than wild turkeys. The coppery-bronze colored metallic sheen, which gives the variety its name, was part of the inheritance from its 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 each type that does not undermine the other.

The details above are taken from the ABLC website.

The Bronze it the most popular variety of turkey there is and a good Bronze is difficult to beat at exhibitions. The Bronze was further developed in England and re-introduced to the Americas where it became extremely popular. There are far fewer standard Bronzes than Broad-breasted (meat) Bronzes.

 


Standards

Origin:
Europe
Classification:
Heavy    
Stag Adult:
13.60-18.14kg / 30-40lb
Stag Young:
11.33-15.87kg / 25-35lb
Hen Adult:
8.16-11.79kg / 18-26lb
Hen Young:
6.35-9.97kg / 14-22lb
Head:
Red, changeable to bluish-white.
Beak:
Horn.
Eyes:
Iris, a dark hazel, pupil blue-black.
Throat & Wattle:
Bright rich red.
Neck:
Copperish bronze.
Back:
From neck to middle of back: A rich copperish-bronze, each feather terminating in a narrow black band, extending across end. From middle of back to tail coverts black, each feather having a broad, copperish-bronze band extending across it near the end, the feathers ending in a distinct black band, gradually narrowing as the tail coverts approached.
Tail:
Main tail and coverts dull black each feather evenly and distinctly marked transversely with parallel line of brown; each feather having a bronze band extending across the feather, bordered on each side by a distinct band of intense black; the feather terminating in a wide edging of white.
Wings:
Shoulder and wing bow coverts rich copperish-bronze, ending in a narrow band of black; Coverts: rich bronze, forming a broad band across wings when folded, feathers terminating in a black band, separating them from the secondaries. Primaries, each feather alternately crossed with distinct parallel black and white bars of equal width; flight coverts, barred similar to primaries; secondaries, dull-black, alternately crossed with distinct parallel black and white bars, the black bar taking on a bronze cast on the shorter top secondaries and the white bar becoming less distinct.
Breast:
Exposed surface of feathers rich bronze, unexposed parts black. Each feather on lower part of breast approaching body terminating in a narrow black band extending across the end.
Body and Fluff:
Body black, each feather with a wide bronze band extending across it at the end, a narrow band of black bordering the bronze and terminating in a narrow edging of pure white. Fluff, a dull black.
Legs and Feet:
Thighs: Dull black with slight edgings of greyish white. Shanks and toes: Dull black but changing to horn with maturity. Toenails: Horn.
Undercolour or all Sections:
N/A
Colour Female:
As male, but with faint white lacing on the breast.
Defects:
Any brown in secondaries.
Day-old Poult:
The head is light brown with dark brown blotches and streaks. The neck and back have a broader dark streak down the centre with narrower streaks on either side. The wings have two dark streaks in the centre and a dark spot near the tip. The underneath of the poult is a yellowish white on the surface and pale grey beneath. The legs and feet are mainly flesh coloured with some smoky pigmentation below.
Plumage in both sexes:
N/A
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