The Slate Turkey is a relatively large bird, with the female typically weighing in at about 12-16 pounds and the males even heavier at 16-20 pounds. Its most distinctive feature is its feathers, which are a mix of black, gray, and white, with some birds having a greenish-blue hue in their feathers. This is the only recognized breed of domestic turkey with this combination of colors.
The breed was created in the late 1800s in Indiana, by a farmer named G.W. Slate. During this time, he crossed a Black Spanish turkey with a White Holland turkey, in the hopes of producing a breed with an attractive, unique color pattern. It is thought that the genetics of the breed may also have been influenced by a wild turkey species.
The Slate Turkey is known for its hardiness and is well-suited to free-range conditions. They are active birds and will wander in search of food, but they can be easily trained to stay in one area. They are excellent foragers, making them great for free-range production.
Slate turkeys display an excellent feed conversion ratio and have a high level of meat production. The meat is white in color and has a mild flavor that is often compared to chicken.
Slate turkeys are easy to breed and don’t require the use of artificial insemination. They are also relatively calm and can be held in captivity. Because of their sturdy frames, they are also capable of withstanding disease and parasites better than some other turkey breeds.
In terms of personality, Slate turkeys can be quite social and curious. They will come to people who provide them with food, and can even be trained to respond to verbal commands.
The Slate Turkey is a great choice for small scale producers who want to raise a larger bird with an interesting color pattern. Their hardiness, high meat production, and calm personalities make them a great choice for both hobbyists and commercial producers alike.