We are often asked what we look for when breeding our turkeys. Although essentially a simple question there is an element that we consider which is often forgotten.
It goes without saying that only fit and healthy birds should be selected for breeding, anything other than that and you are heading for trouble.
Of course, we breed to the ‘show standard’ as agreed and defined by the Turkey Club UK, and managed by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. But we also select a breeding bird for its ‘utility qualities’.
The ‘utility qualities’ are often overlooked, but they are an essential consideration when selecting heritage turkeys that are already endangered and on the RBST Watchlist. It is so important to only breed from turkeys that can mate naturally, incubate and rear their own young independently, and are sufficiently robust to maintain themselves in a ‘natural environment’.
No matter how well our birds meet a ‘show standard’ they must also meet our ‘utility’ standards, otherwise, we won’t breed from them. We believe that our strategy diminishes the risk of unwanted traits being carried forward.
I know what we do may seem tough to many hobbyists. But, we believe the ability for heritage varieties of turkey to be able to fully and independently manage themselves, as well as meet a show standard, is fundamental to their wellbeing and survival into the future.