The Pearl of the New World
The humble turkey has been one of the few animals that has impacted humanity immensely. The history of the turkey is also quite fascinating. Upon initial arrival, colonials were in awe of the wild turkey, specifically, the Eastern Wild Turkey strain which is found ranging east of the Mississippi today. There is, however, much debate about the history of the White "Holland" or White Turkey due to various historical accounts. For example, it has been documented that during ancient times, the Aztecs produced White Turkeys from Wild Turkeys, most likely Rio Grande Wild Turkeys. Just like any white bird bred from a natural strain, the white feather coloring was a result of a genetic mutation. The Aztecs revered the White Turkey as a special "spirit" turkey. Rather than constantly hunting for wild turkey, some Dutch settlers acquired White Turkeys and brought them back to Holland in the 17th century. The White Turkey became very popular in Europe due to the ease of dressing compared to dark feathered turkeys that by the 1800s, the White Turkey was now known as the "White Holland" Turkey.
That being said, all turkeys have genetic roots from the wild turkeys found in North or South America. Yet, the story of the White Holland Turkey doesn't stop there. In 1874, the White Holland Turkey was registered by the American Poultry Association. Around the 1960s, a new version of the White Holland Turkey was created by crossing Broad-breasted Bronze Turkeys, which doubled the amount of breast meat, now known today as the Broad-breasted White Turkey, now known as the most common commercial turkey produced throughout the world. With the increase of commercial turkey farming and the use of genetically modified double-breasted turkeys, the various turkeys, including the original White Holland Turkey, declined in consumer popularity. Fast forward to today...and these various heritage turkeys are threatened to extinction. Some may argue that this is not the case — but look at how commercial turkeys have completely changed the turkey farming industry! If it weren't for a few hatcheries and breeders, all of the heritage turkeys would have already disappeared from the face of the Earth. Further, as a result of many crossings, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to determine whether a White Turkey is the Dutch strain or a commercial strain, which is a second reason why the White Holland is listed as a "threatened" breed. The White Holland has other advantages including the fact that they are known to mature faster, are hardier, and have longer legs which typically yield more leg meat. You can also identify if it isn't a White Holland if the breasts appear broader and the legs appear shorter. This is usually indicative of a commercial white or Broad-breasted White Turkey.
Whether you want to take care of this heritage turkey as a hobby or for a Thanksgiving dinner, the White Holland Turkey has historically been the popular choice, with the male reaching over 30 lbs. and the female usually weighing over 20 lbs. It's ironic to say that consuming the White Holland Turkeys and other hertiage breeds actually assists in their existence. Although the double-breasted turkeys produce more breast meat, sadly, these turkeys become top-heavy and get to a point where they can no longer walk or move. These genetically modified turkeys are mass-produced to the extent that the birds are now sickly and need to be artificially inseminated in order to produce more meat so that profits continue to increase annually. We do not share this way of life and are glad to partake in the proper husbandry of this breed. Afterall, it is the least we could do, considering billions of people all over the world have been fed by the more natural propagation of this noble bird.
Pasteured / Grass-fed Turkeys
Our grass-fed turkeys are also fed organic grains and seeds. We also process turkeys for Thanksgiving for our local customers. Contact us to place your order!
The White Holland Turkey is now listed as "Threatened" and has not yet recovered.
For the Beginner Aviculturist
If raised appropriately, White Holland Turkey don't show any fear towards humans and tend to be very laid back, which makes for great companions on the 'Ranch.