Turkeys


Turkeys -

The turkey is a native of North America, and wild birds are still found in some sections. It has been domesticated here and in Europe for more than three hundred years. It is distinguished by its bare head, wattled neck, short curved bill, handsome plumage and large size - the male being further marked by the conical flesh caruncle surmounting the bill, the tuft of long hair hanging from the base of the neck and the broad rounded tail, at times erected and spread like a fan as he struts about with plumage puffed out and wings rubbing on the ground, uttering his loud "gobble."

The two principal varieties of the wild turkey are the North American, the original species of the Eastern United States, whose plumage is a blending of black, bronze and coppery gold, and the Mexican, of blacker color shaded with bronze and with feathers tipped with white. There is a third important wild type - the most beautiful of all - known as the Ocellated or Honduras, a native of Central America, but it has never been successfully bred in more northern countries. The wild turkey is by far the largest of all American game birds.

All our domestic turkeys are descended from the wild North American and Mexican, principally from the former, and it has been found advantageous to cross the domestic with the wild bird from time to time to strengthen the breed, the size being thus increased and the flavor improved. European turkeys are descended chiefly from the Mexican bird.

The six standard American domestic varieties are the Bronze, Narragansett, Buff, Slate, White and Black. Of these, the first two are the best known.

The Bronze Turkey is the largest and most handsome type. Its weight for the market ranges as high as thirty-six pounds, and some older farm birds have exceeded forty pounds. The female has the same black-bronze coloring as the male, but in more subdued tints.

The Narraganselt, next in size, is distinguished by the greyish effect of its plumage, produced by the grey bands tipping its black feathers. The female is of similar but lighter coloring.

The Buff Turkey is generally of a light chestnut, mixed with white and darker red or brown. The Slate is of ashy blue, with black spots or markings. The White is, in pure breeds, entirely white, except for the black beard on the breast. The Black is nearly as dark in plumage as the name suggests. All of these varieties average from ten to twenty-five pounds in full adult weight.

Spring turkeys are generally in the market from August to November. The older birds are most abundant during the six months from September to February.

A young turkey, to be desirable, should be plump and fat, and the end of the breast bone should bend easily. Many people are of the opinion that the flesh of the young male is better flavored than that of the female.

Very large turkeys are handsome and showy on the poultry counter, but for general family trade and use, those of medium, or rather small, size are usually the most convenient.


Arround Turkeys in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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