Commercial Varieties

Commercial meat-producing turkey varieties are classified according to feather color, either bronze, black, or white, and by skeletal structure, the large broad breast and the smaller unimproved varieties.

The white varieties are now dominant in the United States and Canada. The White Holland and the Broad Breasted Bronze (BBB), were the most important source for breeding. Their descendant, the Broad Breast White, is today the main commercial breed in North America. The Beltsville Small White, with 15-lb toms and 10-lb hens, was popular in the 1950s, when many consumers preferred small birds. However, consumer preferences changed, and currently it holds a very small percentage.

The Bronze turkey is named after its unique color, a shimmering green-bronze that appears metallic in the sunlight. Two types exist, the Broad-breasted Bronze for commercial use and the unimproved variety, which is used in specialty small-scale production. The Broad-breasted Bronze was the world's main variety from the 1930s to 1950s but has been mostly replaced by the Broad-breasted White.

The Black turkey is a medium-size variety with a 27-lb torn and an 18-lb hen. In western Europe it is highly appreciated for its meat quality and therefore is intensely grown there, especially in France and England.

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