There isn’t a much prettier turkey than the Narragansett. These brightly coloured birds are bred mainly for their meat, which makes them particularly suited for farmers who value heritage breeds.
History of Narragansett Turkeys
The Narragansett breed was developed from a cross between two native breeds of turkeys in the 1800, the Narragansett and the Broad Breasted Bronze. They’re known for their large size (especially when compared to domestic turkey breast), dark meat (which is more game like flavour than typical turkeys) and rich flavour. Heritage turkey is one of several varieties of domestic turkey which retain historical characteristics that are not found in most modern day turkeys raised for human consumption. Wild, heritage, turkeys can be distinguished from domesticated turkeys because wild turkeys are able to live their lives naturally without human intervention whereas domesticated turkeys must be fed by humans. Industrialized turkey production has led to shorter lifespans and faster growth rates compared to heritage breeds. Unlike industrial poultry, heritage birds cannot reproduce without artificial insemination.
It has plumage made up of black, gray, tan and white feathers. It looks similar to the Bronze turkey but instead of having its characteristic copper color, it has feathers of grey or dull black. It has a black beard, a horned beak, and a mostly feathered head and neck ranging in color from reddish brown to bluish white.
They are valued because of its excellent temperaments — combined with good mothering skills. These turkeys grow up fast, produce high quality meat, don’t stray too far away from home, and they’re easy to keep.
What is a Narragansett Turkey?
The Narragansett breed originated in Rhode Island where it is still raised today. This breed was developed by crossing two native Rhode Island breeds: the Narragansett with its long legs and broad breast and the Broad Breasted bronze which has short legs and a narrow chest.
Narragansett Turkeys are raised primarily for fresh consumption. They are also raised for processing into ground turkey patties and other processed meats.
These birds are often raised for meat production and are often sold at farmers markets or specialty grocery stores. The Narragansett is a dual purpose breed meaning they are both raised for meat and eggs. They are usually fed a diet consisting of corn, soybeans, wheat middling’s, and oats.
How much does a Narragansett Turkey Weigh?
A Narragansett is a medium sized turkey; they’re smaller than the Broad Breasted Whites but larger than the Miniatures. Young turkeys in their prime meat production years will typically weight between 20 and 30 pounds. Hens typically weigh between 12–16 lbs. When left alone, Narragansett turkeys will get larger, but their meat quality is at its peak when they’re between 6 to 18 months old.
Is the Narragansett Turkey endangered?
It has been placed on the watchlist by the Livestock Conservation Society, which means it may soon become endangered. Breeders who specialize in preserving rare breeds might be able to improve this particular type of turkey so they don’t become extinct.
My favourite part of this particular bird would probably be its gorgeous plumage and colourful feathers. A beautiful addition to any farm; chances are you’d love the beauty and if you choose to farm it for meat it is delicious!
How many eggs does a Narragansett turkey lay?
Narragansett Turkeys can lay anywhere between 50-100 eggs per season, depending on their food intake and age.
Can Narragansett turkeys breed naturally?
Absolutely, Narragansett turkeys can breed naturally. The process of the male and female mating is process that can take all morning, starting with the male gobbling in the morning and ‘dancing’ trying to impress the female.
What do I feed my Narragansett Turkeys?
These heritage turkeys thrive when free ranged, being able to enjoy roaming forest floors for vegetation, bugs and seeds. If your turkeys are kept in a pen, these turkeys are best fed a mixed diet. You should use a variety of grains including wheat middling’s, corn, oats, barley, milo. You can also throw in a few treats such as mealworms and nettles (They love nettles!!).
Narragansett Health Issues and Care
Narraganset turkeys are an older breed with strong immunity. It doesn’t necessarily follow that just because their immune system works well for them means they’re invulnerable. Blackhead is a common issue that can occur across all turkey breeds, specifically when chickens are farmed in the same area. This does not stop many flock keepers from mixing their birds anyway, but Blackhead is a good topic to research and know the risks of.
Make sure your turkeys have dust bathing areas prevent pesky mites and lice. Keep a watchful eye on your birds so you can catch anything amiss early on and work to treat it.