Turkey Farming

Turkey occupies an important position next to chicken, duck. Guinea fowl and quail in contributing the most evolving sector, which is playing a significant role in augmenting the economic and nutritional status of varied population. They form almost two percent of the total poultry population. They are reared for meat only and its meat is the leanest among other domestic avian species. Turkeys are mostly concentrated in and around cosmopolitan cities of India in small numbers. Indigenous and non-descriptive turkeys are found in good numbers in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh and some other parts of India.

Turkey and world

Turkey farming is very popular in western countries and the major turkey producing countries are United States of America, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The Annual per capita consumption of turkey meat in the above said countries ranges from 4-8 kg per year. Turkey population touched 259 millions in 1992(Singh, 1996). The estimated world turkey meat production in 2004 is 4.94 million tones.

Turkey History and thanksgiving holiday:

Turkey (Meleagris Gallopavo) is a large gallinaceous bird of the family Meleagridae that is native of North America, domesticated in Europe and are now important source of food in many parts of the world. Columbus took specimens to Spain in 1948. Reports on turkey were there in Germany in 1530 and in England by 1541.
The first president of the United States of America, George Washington, issued a general proclamation in1789 to celebrate “thanksgiving” on November 26. In 1893 President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November a national thanksgiving holiday. Later it was changed to the fourth Thursday of November. However, turkey is synonymous with Christmas.

Turkey and India

Turkey farming is in infancy in India. However, serious efforts are being made at Central Poultry Development Organisation (Southern Region), Hessarghatta, Bangalore to promote turkey farming. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the leading states in turkey production. Turkey farming is getting popular fast in southern regions. There are three varieties of turkey commonly available in India. They are Board breasted bronze, Broad breasted white and Beltsville small white. White turkeys seem to be more suitable for Indian conditions.

Breeds of turkeys in India

Turkeys are not classified into breeds, however seven standard varieties are available, Bronze, White Holland, Bourbon red, Narragansett, Black, Slate, Beltsville small white.

Board breasted bronze:
The basic plumage color is black and not bronze. The females have black breast feathers with white tips, which help in sex determination as early as 12 weeks of age.

Board breasted white:
This is a cross between Board breasted bronze and White Holland with white feathers. This variety was developed at the Cornell University. White plumage turkeys seems to be suitable Indian-Agro climatic conditions as they have better heat tolerance and also good and clean in appearance after dressing.

Beltsville small white:
This variety was developed at Agricultural University Research Station, Beltsville, USA. It closely resembles the Board breasted white in color and shape but smaller in size. Egg production, fertility and hatchability tend to be higher and broodiness tends to be lower than heavy varieties.