Narragansett Turkeys

A picture containing ground, bird, gallinaceous bird, turkey

Description automatically generated

The Narragansett turkeys are a breed of domestic turkey developed in Rhode Island in the early 20th century by crossing two wild American turkeys. The first recorded breeding was done by George W. Henshaw at his farm near Pawtucket Falls on July 1, 1916. He crossed a Rhode Island Red male to a Rhode Island White female and produced seven chicks that survived. In 1917 he began selling these birds as “Narragansett Reds”.

They became popular for their large size, meat quality, and ability to successfully raise broilers. By 1920 they had become so popular that there were more than 100 farms raising them, and now they can be found across America and Europe.

When do Narragansett Turkeys lay eggs?

A picture containing grass, outdoor, rock, outdoor object

Description automatically generated

These turkeys reach sexual maturity at five to six months of age and begin laying eggs at six or seven months old. They will lay in spring through to early summer. They will lay between 90 and 150 eggs a year, and 65% within the first 13 weeks of laying.

What time of year do Narragansett turkeys start laying eggs?

Narragansett turkeys can be expected to start laying eggs from mid-March until late May or early June. This may vary depending on the weather during the season. They will lay between 90 to 150 eggs a year.

Can Narragansett turkeys breed naturally?

A turkey walking on grass

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Yes. These birds are known for their fantastic ability to reproduce without human intervention. They have been bred this way for generations. The female Narragansett often gets broody during the spring and will hatch and raise their poults without needing assistance from us!

How long does it take for a Narragansett turkey egg to hatch?

The average incubation period for a Narragansett Turkey egg is 28 days. If you are hatching multiple eggs the sound of one poult hatching out can encourage others to start pipping. If your eggs go over the 28 day stage, don’t be tempted to help with the hatching process – the poults will be much healthier and stronger by hatching themselves.

Why did my Narragansett turkey stop laying eggs?

Narragansett turkeys will stop laying once their nests are full. To ensure that they continue to lay then ensure you remove the eggs each day. You can eat the turkey eggs or hatch them into poults. If their nest isn’t full, ensure that they have a comfortable, dry, nesting area. Also make sure that it is the right season, these turkeys only lay during spring and early summer.

If all the above has been checked and the turkeys are still not laying, it may be worth checking that they are healthy and well. We have a few articles on turkey illnesses which may help.

How long will a Narragansett turkey live for? 

A domesticated Narragansett turkey can live up to 15 years. The average lifespan is 10 years for one of these amazing creatures. Obviously in the wild these turkeys have a much shorter average lifespan of 3-5 years.

Will Narragansett turkeys breed naturally? 

Yes, these turkeys will breed naturally without any assistance. We have had many success stories where our customers have hatched and raised their own poults. The best thing about these turkeys is that they are very easy to care for. As long as you provide them with enough food and water they should thrive.

Are there any special requirements I need to know before buying a Narragansett turkey?

There are no specific requirements to buy a Narragansett bird. Just like all turkeys, they grow to a reasonably large size so need a reasonable space to thrive. We recommend a minimum of 20 square feet per bird. You will need a secure area with at least 8 foot fences, or a completely enclosed cover, if you want to keep them penned. If you want to free-range Narragansett turkeys then you will need to put them back to bed each night as they will not put themselves home like chickens do.

Obviously, if you want to hatch eggs then you need to purchase a male bird as well as female turkeys!

How do Narragansett turkeys mate?

During the mating season, turkeys mate between February and June.

The male turkeys dance to attract the female turkeys and interested female turkeys lay low for the male turkeys to hop up on them. It’s an impressive spectacle and we have some videos on our site of the overall process!

During the process, the male turkey presses his cloaca against the female’s cloaca and transfers sperm into her cloaca where it moves to the female’s oviduct and then to the ovum where it fertilizes the yolk.

Turkeys mate during the day and then the females go about their ways looking for a place to nest.

What do Narragansett turkeys eat?

About 10% of a wild turkey’s diet consists mainly of insects, including stinkbugs, grasshoppers, ground beetles, snails, slugs and worms, as well as spiders and other invertebrate creatures.

The rest of their diet consists mostly of seeds, grasses, fruits, nuts, berries and grains.

If you are keeping your Narragansett turkeys penned then feed them a variety of food, ranging from high quality turkey food, nettles, nuts and seeds.

Do Narragansett turkeys eat insects?

Yes, Narragansett turkeys will eat insects, including grasshoppers, beetles, snails, slugs and worms. They will also eat spiders and other insects.

Are Narragansett turkeys good mothers?

Yes, Narragansett turkeys are excellent mothers. They love to take care of their young. They will even help feed their babies by regurgitating food into their mouths.

They will raise their young extremely well.

Can I keep my Narragansett turkey in the house?

We don’t recommend keeping your Narragansetts inside. That is not where they naturally live. They will thrive outside where they have space to range.

Are Narragansett turkeys broody?

Narragansett turkeys will get broody naturally during the laying season. Assuming they have a comfortable nest area and you leave their eggs in the nest, female Narragansett turkeys will get broody and lay on the eggs.

They will do this for a period of 28 days until the eggs hatch naturally.

Are Narragansett turkeys endangered?

Once an endangered breed, heritage turkeys are making a return. Narragansett turkeys are the most popular heritage breed and can be found in homesteads across Northern America, and smallholdings across Europe.

Narragansett turkeys are also starting to be recognised for their superior meat and are starting to be commercially farmed and available in shops.