For a long while, the Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey was one of the most popular turkey breeds in the United States. While it no longer holds that honor, this is a breed that is still bred in droves, and it is probably one of the more recognizable of turkey breeds in the country.
Let’s take a look at what the Bronze Turkey and the Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey can bring to the table, shall we?
Bronze Turkeys Facts at a Glance
|Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey||Standard Bronze Turkey|
|Weight – Young||male: 30 lbs |
female: 18 lbs
|male: 25 lbs|
female: 15 lbs
|Weight – Old||male: 45 lbs|
female: 25 lbs
|male: 30 lbs|
female: 19 lbs
|Color||Dark bronze||Coppery bronze|
Where Do The Bronze Turkey Come From?
We do know that the roots of the Bronze Turkey can be traced to England, at some point in the 18th Century. Although, this is a heritage turkey breed that did not become officially recognized until the 19th Century.
There is some debate about where the original Bronze turkey was created. We do know that it came from crossing domestic turkeys in England and wild turkeys from the United States.
The Bronze turkey was developed by early American settlers. However, where this actually happened isn’t recorded. In fact, we do not even know what domestic turkeys from England went into the breeding of the Bronze turkey.
The standard Bronze turkey is considered as the ancestor to the Broad Breasted Bronze.
However, it does seem that most people seem to agree that this is an English bird that was brought over to the United States, so this is the story that we are going to go with.
Part of the reason why we do not know the real origins of this turkey breed is down to the fact that it had several different names in the early history.
Nobody even called it the Bronze turkey until the mid-19th century. As a result, it is incredibly difficult to track down the history of the bird.
There are Actually Two Types
This is where things get a little bit odd. The Bronze turkey is actually divided into two different types, but they both come from the same stock. You will see both of them referred to as the Bronze turkey:
- Standard Bronze
- Broad Breasted Bronze
We are going to talk more about these in a short while. This way you can get an idea as to the differences between the two.
The Look of the Bronze Turkey
The Bronze turkey is a fairly weighty bird. The Standard Bronze is a lot smaller than the Broad Breasted Bronze, but this is not something that has stopped it being raised for meat production. It is still a turkey. It is still going to weigh a substantial amount.
As we said earlier the Broad Breasted Bronze was the most popular commercial turkey breed for many years after its development, until the Broad Breasted White turkey became the breed of choice.
Nevertheless, both the Standard Bronze and the Broad Breasted Bronze have bronze-colored feathers (hence the name), although the feathers of the standard bronze are going to be ever so slightly lighter in their color.
The feathers of the standard bronze also tend to be a little bit ‘fluffier’. Beyond this, they look pretty much the same.
Breeding the Bronze Turkey
Both types of the Bronze turkey are bordering on extinction. While they were popular in the past, they were only ever used for meat.
As other birds started to appear that were better for meat, commercial operations stopped raising them. The Bronze probably didn’t help itself too much here anyway. It is a tough breed to raise.
The problem with the Broad Breasted Bronze is that the bird is massive. In fact, it is so massive that it cannot conceive naturally.
This means that if you are planning to have these as part of a homestead flock, there is virtually no chance you will be able to breed them yourself. You can try, but it is far more hassle than it is worth.
This is because their breeding is done through artificial insemination, and since turkeys are not laying eggs throughout the year, this can be something that is pretty difficult to do.
The standard bronze turkey is a bit easier to breed. You would have success allowing it to breed naturally. Although, do bear in mind that if breeding turkeys is your goal, then there are far, far better birds out there for that.
The Bronze Turkey Meat
This was the main reason why the turkey was raised in the past and, to be honest, it is probably the only reason why it is around today. However, once again, we do want to stress that there are better birds out there for meat.
The only real purpose for the Broad Breasted Bronze is for meat. It is an incredibly fast-growing turkey, and this means that it needs to be slaughtered before it reaches adulthood. If it is not slaughtered by this point, then it will die from heart failure.
The standard bronze turkey is still a weighty turkey and, ideally, it would be slaughtered sooner as opposed to later. However, it will fare a little bit better than the broad-breasted bronze if you want a bird that can grow to a few years old.
As a Show Bird
There is nothing especially unique about this breed of turkey. As a result, you are not going to be able to find any shows where you can show it off. About the only show that a this turkey appears will be a cooking show!
That being said, they do look fairly decent. There are a lot of people that raise the standard bronze turkey as an ornamental breed.
Raising Bronze Turkeys
As we have said before; raising the Broad Breasted Bronze turkey is just too difficult for the average person. It is impossible to get a flock going unless you know how to carry out artificial insemination.
The bird grows incredibly rapidly too, which means you would need to be constantly replacing the birds once you have slaughtered them. It is not an ‘easy’ process.
Raising the standard Bronze turkey should be much simpler. They are hardy animals that require very little in the way of special care. They will eat a standard turkey diet, and they will thrive in most conditions. You can check out the article we have wrote recently about what do turkeys eat.
There are no known health issues for the breed, which is part of the reason as to why they dominated commercial turkey farming for decades.
These birds are known for being friendly, but do bear in mind that they are still turkeys. This means that there is a decent chance that they could be aggressive if you get too close. Although, if you raise them from chicks, it is likely that there will be far fewer issues.