About Bronze Turkeys
also known as Cambridge Bronze Turkeys, are domestic turkey whose plumage has
an iridescent bronze-like sheen.
Bronze turkeys were developed by crossing domestic turkeys
brought from England, with wild turkeys. These matings produced a bird that was
larger and more robust than the European turkeys, and tamer than wild turkeys. Although
Bronze turkeys were created in the 18th century, the actual name was not used
until the 1830s, when a strain developed in the U.S. was named the Point Judith
Bronze. The name later spread to be used in reference to the breed as a whole,
and was in the process simplified to just "Bronze". In the Britain,
the Bronze was associated with Cambridge, and was called the Cambridge Bronze,
but again this name has been simplified to just "Bronze".
Bronze Turkeys were first admitted into the American Poultry
Association's Standard of Perfection in 1874. Later, beginning in the late 19th
and early 20th centuries, some Bronze turkeys were selected for larger size. These
much bigger birds became known as the Broad Breasted Bronze, to differentiate
them from the original type of bird which was bred to the breeds' Standard of
Perfection, and so was called the Standard (or Unimproved) Bronze.
The plumage of the Standard Bronze is usually lighter and more
lustrous than that of the Broad Breasted. Both have a brown color which is
highlighted by shades of copper and blue-green, and the plumage overall is very
similar to that of the wild turkey.
Broad Breasted Bronze Turkeys dominated the commercial turkey
industry for twenty years after its development, until the Broad Breasted White
became the breed of choice. Due to their size, they have lost the ability to
mate naturally, and Broad Breasted Bronzes in existence today are maintained
entirely by artificial insemination. Standard Bronze Turkeys, however, have
retained the ability to reproduce naturally and are considered to be a variety
of heritage turkey.
both Standard and Broad Breasted Bronze Turkeys are listed on the ALBC's
conservation priority list. The Standard is listed as "Critical", but
the exact numbers of Broad Breasted are currently unclear. Standard Bronzes
have additionally been included in Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste, a catalog of
heritage foods in danger of extinction.