Jump to: Standards

The Narragansett turkey is named after Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, where the variety was developed.  It descends from native  turkeys and the domestic turkeys (probably Norfolk Blacks) brought to America by English and European colonists beginning in the 1600's.  Improved and standardized for production qualities, the Narragansett became the foundation of the turkey industry in New England. Though it was valued across the country, it was especially important in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The American Poultry Association recognized the Narragansett in 1874.       

According to an 1872 account, it was not uncommon to find flocks of one to two hundred birds, the product of a breeder flock of a dozen hens.  Little supplemental feed was given to the turkeys; instead they ranged for grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects. Farmers raising the turkeys were aware of the benefits of genetic selection and raised young toms that weighed between 22-28 pounds and hens that were 12-16 pounds.

While the Narragansett was never as popular as the Bronze variety, it was widely known in the Midwest and mid Atlantic States as well as in New England. Interest in the Narragansett began to decline in the early 1900s as popularity of the Standard Bronze grew. The Narragansett 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 Narragansett color pattern contains black, gray, tan, and white.  Its pattern is similar to that of the Bronze, with steel gray or dull black replacing the coppery bronze. White wing bars are the result of a genetic mutation which removes the bronze coloration and is not known outside the United States. The Narragansett's beak is horn colored, its head is red to bluish white and its beard is black. The shanks and feet are salmon colored.  The standard weight for young hens is 14 pounds and toms is 23 pounds. Since, however, the Narragansett has not been selected for production attributes, including weight gain, for years, 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.

Narragansett turkeys have traditionally been known for their calm disposition, good maternal abilities, early maturation, egg production, and excellent meat quality. As recently as 50 years ago, they were well regarded for production qualities. This historic variety, unique to North America, merits evaluation for production in sustainable agriculture systems. The Narragansett turkey would make a useful and beautiful addition to the family farm.

The details above are taken from the ALBC website


North America
Stag Adult:
14.90kg / 33lb
Stag Young:
10.40kg / 23lb
Hen Adult:
8.10kg / 18lb
Hen Young:
6.30kg / 14lb
Red, changeable to bluish-white.
Throat & Wattle:
Red, changeable to bluish-white.
Unexposed part of the feather black, the exposed surface of each feather steel-grey approaching white; finishing in a narrow black band across the feather. The band increasing in width as the back is approached.
Rich, metallic black free from any bronze cast. Saddle black, each feather ending in a broad, steel-grey band going to white, the light band increasing in width as the tail coverts are approached.
Main tail: Dull black, each feather regularly pencilled with parallel lines of tan, ending in a broad band of metallic black, free from bronze cast, edged with steel-grey going to white. Coverts and Lesser Coverts: Dull black, each feather regularly pencilled with parallel lines of tan, having a wide band of metallic black - free from bronze cast - extending across it near the end, terminating in a wide edging of light steel-grey approaching white.
Shoulder and Wing Bow Coverts: Light steel-grey ending in a narrow black band. Coverts: A light steel-grey, forming a broad steel-grey band across the wings when folded, feathers terminating in a distinct black band, forming a glossy, ribbon-like mark, which separates them from secondaries. Primaries: Each feather, throughout its entire length, alternately crossed with distinct parallel black and white bars of equal width. Flight Coverts: Barred similar to primaries. Secondaries: Alternately crossed with distinct parallel black and white bars, the black bar taking on a light steel-grey cast on the shorter top secondaries, the white bar becoming less distinct.
Unexposed part of each feather black, ending in a broad, light steel-grey band which becomes darker the closer you get to the underbody; each feather ending with a distinct black band, narrow at the throat and becoming wider on the lower breast.
Body and Fluff:
Body Dull black, feathers ending with a distinct band of white. Fluff: Black, terminating in white.
Legs and Feet:
Lower Thighs: Intense black edged with light steel-grey. Shanks and Toes: In mature specimens, deep salmon; in young specimens, dark approaching salmon.
Undercolour or all Sections:
Very dark slate.
Colour Female:
Plumage is similar in all sections to the male except that feathers on the back should end with a distinct white edging of medium width, the black edging terminating at cape and breast gradually changing to a white edging, which widens as it approaches the rear.
Wings showing one or more primary or secondary feathers completely black or brown, or absence of white or grey bars more than one-half of the length of primaries; white or grey bars showing on main tail feathers beyond greater main tail coverts, except the terminating wide edging of white. Entire absence of black bands on greater tail coverts. Edging of brown in secondary feathers.
Day-old Poult:
The head is yellowish-grey, mottled with dark brown with three dark streaks, the middle being widest, running from the top of the head down the neck. The upper parts of the body are light greyish-brown mottled with very dark brown and the three dark streaks continue along the back to the tail. The underparts of the body are yellowish-white to almost white on the surface. Undercolour of body down throughout is a light grey. The shank, legs and feet are the same as the Bronze. Although the breast of a Narragansett poult is paler than in the Bronze it is very difficult to segregate the two varieties accurately until they are around 6 weeks old.
Plumage in both sexes:
Jump to: Top