Blue Slate Turkey – An Underrated Turkey Breed

The Blue Slate Turkey is known by one of two names. You will either find it referred to as the Slate Turkey or the Lavender Turkey. They are both the same breed. However, people have used the Lavender Turkey name to refer to birds which are a little bit larger. As we go through the breed here, we will only be referring to it as the Blue Slate Turkey.

Blue Slate Turkey Facts at a Glance

Weight – Oldmale: 33 lbs (15 kg)
female: 18 lbs (8.2 kg)
Eggs~ 50 eggs per year
ColorSlate blue
Blue Slate Turkey Facts

Where Do Slate Turkey Come From?

Little is known about the origin of the Blue Slate Turkey. However, this does seem to be the case for pretty much every single breed of turkey that appeared before the 1900s. The Blue Slate turkey was admitted to the APA in 1874.

blue slate turkey
Photo by Jean

Very few birds were actually developed by certain breeders. It seems to be very much a joint effort. We do not even know what breeds went into the development of this breed.

However, every indication does seem to be that it was the Spanish Black Turkey and the Norfolk Black Turkey. A few other breeds may be intermingled in there somewhere, but it is mostly one of these breeds.

What we do know, however, is that this is a heritage turkey breed that is critically endangered. In fact, as we type, this is a bird that is on the cusp of becoming extinct.

With so few breeding pairs around right now, we doubt that this is a problem that can be rectified.

Breeders are doing everything that they can to try and save the Blue Slate Turkey from extinction, but the breed is likely too far gone now, sadly.

The Look of the Slate Turkey

The Blue Slate turkey weighs between 18 and 33 lbs, with most of the hens resting on the lower end of things here. However, an old Tom can grow up to a whooping 35 lbs. There are multiple color variations of this bird.

Two of these are tied to the origination birds that went into the development of this breed:

  • You have a fully black version
  • Blue feathers with small black spots on them
  • Grey, with a slight dash of blue on it. Basically, it is a grey with a hint of blue.

Their eyes will always be brown, and their beards will always be black.

As a Show Turkey

Nowadays, if a Blue Slate Turkey is being raised, it is almost certainly being raised with the purpose of being a show turkey.

The only reason why these birds have yet to go extinct is because they do make fantastic pets (more on that in a short while).

If you want a bird that is going to stand out from the crowd, then the Blue Slate Turkey is probably going to be the perfect bird for you.

Photo by Jean

While it is becoming rarer, you will find that a lot of the top turkey shows will have the Blue Slate Turkey there. Breeders have put a lot of effort into developing the colors of this bird over the years.

The Blue Slate Turkey Raised as a Meat Bird

Outside of the show purposes of this bird, a lot of people do raise it as a meat bird. Of course, it is not going to be the largest bird around, but there are a lot of people out there that do not have a lot of space on their homestead and, as a result, want a smaller bird that they can raise for meat.

The problem with raising this bird solely for meat is the fact that it can be tough to breed. A lot of the Blue Slate Turkeys around right now are ‘related’ to one another.

Yes. We know that this is the case with most smaller breeds of turkey, but it is especially bad when it comes to the Blue Slate Turkey.

This means that it can be exceedingly difficult to get them to ‘mate’. When they do mate, there is a low fertilization rate.

In our opinion, you should probably be breeding the Blue Slate Turkey with other breeds if you are looking for a meat bird.

Sure, you are not going to be ending up with a Blue Slate Turkey at the end of the day, but at least you will be able to develop the flock and have a steady flow of meat birds.

Blue Slate Turkey Eggs and Egg-Laying

Photo by Bob n Renee

You probably are not going to be raising any turkey for eggs. They simply do not lay enough of them to make it a viable thing.

Yes. The Blue Slate Turkey is going to lay eggs, but it is likely that you will be using these eggs for breeding rather than anything else.

The Blue Slate Turkey as a Pet

Nowadays, the main purpose of this breed is as a pet. It has a lot going for it:

  • It is easy to raise
  • It looks good
  • It is a friendly bird

Since the Slate Turkey is smaller than a few other breeds like the Broad Breasted White , it means that you do not need to have a huge amount of space for it.

There are no real special care requirements for it either. With other birds, you do have to put a little bit of effort into grooming the feathers, but that isn’t the case with this one.

Photo by Jean

Do bear in mind that even though this is a smaller turkey, it still eats a lot of food.

If you raise it from a chick, then you will also have a bird that should be quite friendly.

This isn’t really an aggressive breed of bird, and thus you shouldn’t have that many issues when you are raising it.

It is also not so small that it will get ‘scared’ when you approach it, which is always nice.

Your main concern when raising this bird as a pet will be ensuring that it is in a secure location. While this breed doesn’t fly all that much, you do want to reduce the risk of them coming into contact with predators.

After all, this can be a problem for some of the smaller breeds of turkey. Yes. The bird can ‘fight back’, but you really do not want to take that risk, do you?

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