8 Types of Domestic Turkeys Recognized by APA

Anyone considering keeping turkeys in their homestead must consider which turkey breeds would suit their desires and needs perfectly. With so many domestic turkey breeds, novice turkey raisers can struggle to pick the right breed for meat, ornamental purposes, or egg production. After all, domestic turkeys are different in size, weight, and temperament.

Luckily, the APA (American Poultry Association) recognizes many domestic turkey breeds that make excellent table birds and prolific layers. Here are the top eight types of domestic turkeys recognized by APA.

Comparison of Different Turkey Breeds

Breed Origin Appearance Size Primary Use Temperament
Bronze US Striking brown color with blue-green and copper shades, two varieties: standard and broad-breasted Up to 4 feet tall, with a wingspan of around 6 feet Meat production Friendly with humans but protective of offspring
Narragansett US Tan, gray, black, and white feathers, black beards and horn-colored beaks, featherless head, and neck
  • Gobblers weigh 10-12.7 kg
  • Hens weigh 6-7.5 kg
Meat production Hardy and robust with calm temperament and excellent maternal abilities, avid foragers
White Holland US Entirely white with bluish to red head and pinkish-white wattles and throats
  • Gobblers weigh about 16.33 kg
  • Hens weigh about 9 kg
Meat production Docile temperament lay large-sized pale-cream eggs
Black Europe Metallic black and lustrous plumage with a greenish sheen on their tops
  • Gobblers weigh around 10.5 kg
  • Hens weigh about 6.5 kg
Meat production Calm and docile with superior meat quality, but gobblers can be aggressive and territorial, hens protective
Bourbon Red US Unique reddish plumage with white spots on tails, chestnut mahogany breasts and necks
  • Gobblers weigh around 15 kg
  • Hens weigh about 8.2 kg
Meat production Docile and calm with active foraging and hardy nature, excellent maternal abilities, and ultimate guardianship
Slate US Mild blue to solid blue coloration Weigh between 6.4-10.6 kg Meat production Hardy and excellent meat birds with aggressive temperaments and active foraging
Beltsville Small US Black plumage and beaks
  • Gobblers weigh around 7.7 kg
  • Females weigh about 4.5 kg
Meat production (small-scale farming) Charming personalities with great reproduction qualities
White US Entirely white plumage with red head
  • Gobblers around 23 kg
  • Hens around 10 kg
Meat production White turkeys are known to have a docile temperament.
Royal Palm UK White with black metallic edgings on feathers
  • Gobblers weigh 7.25-10 kg
  • Hens weigh 4.6-5.5 kg
Ornamental purposes, Meat production, and pest and insect control Thrifty and active with great foraging and flying, non-aggressive gobblers and excellent maternal hens

Turkey Breeds Recognized by APA

Now, let’s get into more details and learn about these types of turkeys.

– Bronze Turkey

Bronze is among the most popular heritage turkey breeds that have been around since the 20th century. The breed is a cross between wild turkeys brought to the US by the English settlers in the 18th century and wild turkeys from the US. Bronze turkeys can grow up to 4 feet tall. Adult Bronze turkeys have a wingspan of around 6 feet. The AP acknowledged these birds in 1875.

While these turkeys are massive and heavy, they are friendly with humans. Your Bronze turkeys will follow you around. However, these birds are protective of their offspring. Their overall temperament depends on their breeders and the level of socialization they get in their infancy years.

The primary use of these turkeys is meat production. Bronze turkeys come in two varieties: the standard and broad-breasted varieties.

The standard variant is smaller than the broad-breasted variant. It’s ready for meat production when it is about seven to eight months old. The broad-breasted variant has a large breast and massive weight, making it a superb meat producer. It also matures quickly, ready for slaughtering at five months old.

The standard bronze turkey has a more lustrous and lighter plumage than its broad-breasted counterpart. Overall, Bronze turkeys have a striking brown color with blue-green and copper shades. Their plumage is similar to wild turkeys’ plumage.

– Narragansett Turkey

04 Narragansett Turkey
The Narragansett turkey breed originates from the US. Narragansett turkeys are a cross between domestic turkeys and eastern wild turkeys. These turkeys are unique to the North American continent. The Narragansett turkey was recognized by APA in 1874, making it among the most dependable heritage breeds.

The Narragansett turkey is a large fowl with a gorgeous appearance. It has beautiful plumage with tan, gray, black, and white feathers. Some Narragansett turkeys have white feather bars on their wings because of a genetic mutation. Narragansett turkeys have black beards and horn-colored beaks.

These turkeys have featherless heads and necks, which can be blue, white, or red. Adult Narragansett toms weigh between 10 and 12.7 kg, while hens weigh between 6 and 7.5 kg.

Turkey raisers keep Narragansett turkeys for meat because of their enormous size. Narragansett turkeys are hardy and robust birds. They have a calm disposition and an excellent temperament. Hens have remarkable maternal abilities. Narragansett turkeys have impeccable egg production, superior meat quality, and early maturation.

These turkeys are fast runners and wonderful flyers. Furthermore, Narragansett turkeys are avid foragers and good at foraging for crickets, grasshoppers, and insects. Since these turkeys are excellent foragers, farmers can maintain them with minimal supplemental feeds.

– White Holland Turkey

The White Holland is an ancient heritage turkey breed from the US. White Holland turkeys are a cross between native American wild turkeys and white European turkeys. APA recognized these birds in 1874. Today, the White Holland turkey is a famous heritage domestic turkey breed.

White Holland turkeys are beautiful domestic turkeys with a similar appearance to broad-breasted white turkeys, although the latter are larger than White Holland turkeys. The White Holland turkey has long legs and a small-sized breast. It’s entirely white. Its head is bluish to red, and the feathers are white as snow.

White Holland turkeys have black beards and pink col beaks. They have pinkish-white wattles and throats, while the toes and shanks are pinkish-white. White Holland turkeys’ eyes are brown. Adult toms weigh about 16.33 kg, while adult hens weigh about 9 kg.

Farmers raise these birds primarily for meat production. White Holland turkeys have docile temperaments, although some can be aggressive. Hens lay large-sized pale-cream eggs, which can occasionally be medium brown with spots.

– Black Turkey

The Black turkey breed is a popular turkey breed from Europe. Some poultry enthusiasts call this breed the Black Spanish turkey or the Norfolk Black turkey. These turkeys gained recognition from APA in 1874, although the Livestock Conservancy considers these birds as endangered fowl.

They are medium to large-sized turkeys with attractive appearances. Black turkeys have metallic black and lustrous plumage. They have a greenish sheen on their tops and dull back under color. Poults and young Black turkeys have bronze or white feathers, although the feather coloring changes to black as the birds grow.

Black turkeys have black beaks and bright red wattles. Adult Black turkeys have pink toes and shanks, while the eyes are dark brown. While Black turkeys have black plumage, their skins are entirely white. Mature toms weigh around 10.5 kg, while adult hens weigh about 6.5 kg. Black turkeys are strictly meat birds.

These turkeys are calm and docile, although toms can be aggressive and territorial. Hens are also protective of their poults. The meat from these turkeys has a superior flavor. Hens lay between 40 and 50 eggs annually during the first years of laying, although egg production diminishes as they age.

– Bourbon Red Turkey

The Bourbon Red turkey breed is a domestic turkey breed in the US. The bird derives its name from Bourbon county in Kentucky, United States. Bourbon Red turkeys have unique reddish plumages. Bourbon Red turkeys are also known as Bourbon Butternuts or Kentucky Reds. They are a cross of White Holland turkeys and Bronze turkeys. APA recognized these turkeys in 1909.

Bourbon Reds are massive turkeys with a gorgeous appearance. They have dark feathers with white spots on their tails. These turkeys have white flight feathers and soft red bands. They have white tail feathers and flight feathers with dark red to brownish plumage.

Bourbon Red turkeys have chestnut mahogany breasts and necks. These turkeys’ under color feathers are almost white to light buff. Bourbon Red turkeys have light horn beaks at the tips. Though their throat and wattles are red, they constantly change to bluish-white. Their beards are black, while the toes and shanks are pink.

Mature Bourbon Red toms weigh around 15 kg, while mature hens weigh about 8.2 kg. Turkey raisers raise these birds strictly for meat. Bourbon Reds are active foragers that thrive in a free-range system. These turkeys have a pleasant, docile, and calm temperament. They are hard and attractive turkeys to add to your backyard.

These birds are tolerant of almost all climates. Bourbon Red mothers are devoted caregivers, while toms are the ultimate guardians of their flocks.

– Slate Turkey

The slate turkey breed is an American breed known as the Lavender or Blue Slate Turkey. The APA recognized this fowl in 1974, although it’s among the critically endangered turkey breeds today. The Slate turkey is a medium to large-sized bird with a striking appearance.

The Slate turkey derives its name from its coloration. Slate turkeys have a mild blue to solid blue coloration. Their wattles, throats, and heads are bluish-white to red, while their beaks are horn colored. Slate turkeys have brown eyes and black beards. Their toes and shanks are pink. Mature Slate turkeys weigh between 6.4 and 10.6 kg.

These hardy turkeys are excellent meat birds. While Slate turkeys have an aggressive temperament, these birds are highly dependent and active foragers. Slate hens lay brown to spotted cream, large-sized eggs.

– Beltsville Small White Turkey

The Beltsville Small White turkey breed is a small to medium-sized breed from the US. The breed has been popular since 1934. The turkey derives its name from its place of origin and physical characteristics. The APA officially recognized the Beltsville Small White in 1951. The breed is a rare and critically endangered turkey breed.

Beltsville Small White turkeys have black plumages and beaks. These turkeys have dark brown eyes, pinkish-white toes, and shanks. Beltsville Small White toms weigh around 7.7 kg, and females weigh approximately 4.5 kg. Despite being smaller than most meat-producing turkey breeds, Beltsville Small White are fantastic table birds.

Beltsville Small White turkeys have charming personalities. These birds have great reproduction qualities. They are suitable for small-scale turkey farmers since they are easy to breed and maintain.

– Royal Palm Turkey

The Royal Palm turkey breed originates from the UK. It’s among the few turkey breeds suitable for ornamental purposes, thanks to its unique appearance. The APA acknowledged the Royal Palm in 1971. Today, the American Livestock Breeds listed the Royal Palm as a critically endangered fowl.

Royal Palm turkeys are small-sized turkeys with a lustrous appearance. These turkeys have a white coloration with remarkably contrasting black metallic edgings on their feathers. They have black saddles, which provide them with a contrast against their white base body plumage.

Royal Palm turkeys have white tails, with each tail feather having a black band and a white edge. They have horn-colored beaks and red wattles, heads, and throats. Royal Palm turkeys have black beards and bright pink toes and shanks. Royal Palm toms weigh between 7.25 and 10 kg. Hens weigh between 4.6 and 5.5 kg.

These turkeys are thrifty, active, and excellent foragers. Furthermore, they are great flyers. Royal Palm toms are non-aggressive, and hens are excellent mothers. Hens lay medium brown to cream eggs with spots. Royal Palms are great for home meat production and pest and insect control.


Keeping turkeys can be fun, particularly if you choose the best APA-approved turkey breeds. These breeds are suitable for commercial and domestic turkey farmers. Furthermore, most APA- approved breeds are hardy and can handle different climates.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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