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Black Spanish Turkey
Country of Origin: Europe
Bird Size: 18-33 Lbs.
Primary Use: Meat, Pet
Egg Production: Seasonal
Egg Size: Extra Large
Egg Color: Cream Speckled
Hardiness: All Temps
Type of Environment: Free Range
Conservation Status: Threatened
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Turkeys are seasonal layers. Eggs and poults are generally available from April to August
Looking for a rare, endangered Turkey? Check out the Black Spanish, Black Turkey or Black Nofolk. This is a wonderful turkey that has all the traits you could ask for – calm, social, superior flavor and eye candy here on our farm. This is the hardiest of all the heritage turkey breeds.
The coloring of the Black Spanish is absolutely gorgeous. It is a lustrous, metallic black with a greenish sheen on top and a dull black under color. The poults and teenagers will often have white or bronze in their feathers as they grow and develop but molt into the black color above. Since, however, the Black has not been selected for production attributes for years, many birds may be smaller than the breed standard. In our breeding program we work on weights of out turkeys. While generally known as the Black turkey, the terms “Norfolk Black” and “Black Spanish” are also used in the United States when referring to this variety, all these terms refer to the same Black variety.
Here at the farm we are really amazed at how hardy this breed is. In Vermont our winters are very rough and summers can be hot. This turkey can handle all of those extremes, roosting at the highest point on our barn in high winds and freezing weather. We actually have to make them come indoors. In our observation our stock and breed has been so far very hardy and healthy. All poults are born strong and healthy with very little health concerns. Heritage turkeys prefer to be free ranged and roost as high up as possible. They don’t bare confinement well due to their large size and nature. Remember these turkeys can fly. The Hens tend to wander and Toms stay close to the food! They are alert and gaggle whenever they sense danger or anyone coming to the farm. They are a very curious bird and due to that curiosity can get into trouble sometimes, so keep this in mind. Our Turkey breeders and offspring have not been aggressive, nor do we breed to any aggressive birds. Our breeders are silly, nosy and always showing off to visitors.
This breed is considered “threatened” by the Livestock Conservancy. A portion of the sale of the Black Turkey, will go to this organization to help keep breeds like this around for generations to come. Check out our blog article on heritage breeds. You can read all about our conservation program here.
For meat production – these are great for any situation like all heritage turkeys they can naturally reproduce and you can basically have a self-sustaining flock. Harvesting expect longer grow rates for Heritage Turkeys. The flavor of a naturally grown turkey is amazing and very sought after so the market is great. A note is when harvesting since the feathers are black, you will have ink spots on the meat – this is not in any way change the taste or health of the turkey. This is the ink from their dark pin feathers and education to consumers will help explain.
Egg consumption – heritage turkeys are not big egg layers, they can lay up to 60-80 eggs a year and seasonally (Spring to Summer). Eggs can be used in a normal fashion but pastry chefs rave about their use in more dense deserts like Crème Brule (not so much in lighter deserts like angel food cake), they are also very good when used for egg noodle production.
Raising and the Why? We consider turkeys an intermediate bird to raise. The poults do require a little more special attention and the teenagers are a bit naughty! Once adults they are easier to manage. Sugar Feather Farm is here for you after your purchase to help with any questions or concerns. Turkeys are seasonal layers and only lay in the Spring and Summer months and occasionally into the Fall. All our turkeys are Non-GMO!
Feed Recommendations : turkeys are considered a gamebird and need higher protein when developing. We recommend Sugar Feather Farm gamebird starter, when they are poults, Sugar Feather Farm gamebird grower when they are growing, and when the hit maturation you can switch to our adult feed. If you are raising strictly for meat production and pasture a different feed regimen will apply. You can reach out for recommendations on that program.
We highly recommend purchasing the oil of oregano – it can help prevent blackhead disease in turkeys!
The Black turkey originated in Europe as a direct descendant of the Mexican turkeys carried home with explorers in the 1500s. Black colored turkeys became popular in Spain where they were known as “Black Spanish”, and in England, especially in the Norfolk region where they were known as “Norfolk Blacks.” After being selected for meat production for more than two centuries, the Black Spanish turkey made the voyage back to the Americas with early European colonists. Once here, the variety was crossed with Eastern wild turkeys, which formed the basis for the Black turkey variety in America. This Black variety was commercially viable through the early part of the 20th century though not as popular as Bronze, White Holland, Narragansett, and Bourbon Red varieties. Some past information states that Blacks were bred in large numbers along the East Coast including Maryland and Virginia, their popularity enhanced by selection for a calm disposition, rapid growth, and early maturation. The black was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874.
The Black turkey is in need, this is a “threatened” breed on the Livestock Conservancy list. A renewed interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flavor has captured consumer interest again and is creating a growing market niche. This personable, attractive bird can recover to its early 20th century status with the help of us!
Sugar-Feather is member of the following groups:
Pre-ordered adults and hatchlings may be picked up by appointment. To safeguard our birds from exposure to disease brought in by visitors, in accordance with the provisions of the National Poultry Improvement Plan, areas where birds are kept are off limits. However you are welcome to look at all the breeds and interactions, it is a site to see.