Black Turkeys, sometimes
referred to as Black Spanish Turkeys or Norfolk Black Turkeys, were developed
in Europe from a group of Aztec turkeys brought from Mexico in the 1500's. Today
they are found throughout Europe and are considered the oldest turkey breed in
Black Turkeys have a
lustrous greenish-black plumage.
Black Turkeys were sent
in the holds of ships on the transatlantic crossing from Europe to the New
World, and were raised by early colonists. Ironically, it is likely that the
turkey consumed at the first Thanksgiving meal may have actually been from
European birds, rather than wild turkeys native to the continent, though these
descended from same bird.
Later, Black Turkeys
were crossed with wild turkeys to help produce other breeds such as the Bronze,
Narragansett, and Slate Turkeys. They remained a commercially farmed variety in
the U.S. until the early 20th century, but fell out of favor after the
development of Broad Breasted Bronze and Broad Breasted White Turkeys.