The Bourbon Red Turkey is reemerging in America as one of the most popular heritage turkey breeds. Considered a fairly rare breed of Turkey, it has less than 5,000 documented breeding birds in the country. Recognized by the APA in 1909, the Bourbon Red was created in Bourbon County, the heart of Kentucky’s bluegrass region. The original development of this dark red breed began in Pennsylvania using the Buff Turkey as the main foundation breed.
The breeding process of the Bourbon Red Turkey involved at selecting utility traits to develop a breed with large breasts and richly flavored meat. The breed was an important player in the commercial turkey meat industry in the 1930s and 40s; but, like every other commercial breed, was overtaken by the Broad Breasted White Turkey. Popularity for the Bourbon Red Turkey fizzled out in the mid 20th century. That being said, the Bourbon Red has made a strong comeback as a heritage breed as sustainable farming and backyard poultry production has boomed in popularity since the turn of the century. This turkey breeds overall biological superiority, survivability, and deliciously rich flavor of meat has made this bird one of the most popular heritage breeds in the Country.
These attractive birds are often used for exhibition and backyard purposes. They are great foragers and would do well in a pasture production environment. Another exceptional quality of the Bourbon Red Turkey is its light colored pin feathers that leave minimal trace when plucked. This leaves a good looking clean carcass. The appeal of this bird to small farmers and backyard poultry enthusiasts is unrivaled, and its friendly temperament make it a great companion for those wishing to raise poultry while providing great tasting meat for family and friends.