The Narragansett Turkey was, at one time, the cornerstone of American Turkey Production. These birds are big and beautiful, but their population has dwindled dangerously low.
As one of the oldest domesticated turkey breeds, there are not any good records of how the Narragansett Turkey was developed. Most likely, colonists bred the Black Turkeys they brought with them from Europe with the Eastern Wild Turkeys they found in the New World.
The result is the Narragansett Turkey, which has black, white, tan, and gray feathers and a striking appearance. The color pattern is almost identical to that of the Bronze Turkey but has gray or black feathers rather than bronze ones.
In the 1800s, the Narragansett was a thriving breed, and some reports indicate that it was not unusual to see flocks of more than 200 birds, in various parts of New England. The breed was considered “the” New England turkey and was named after the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. It was also well-known in the rest of the country.
Interestingly the Narragansett was commonly raised in the early 1800s but was not named until the 1830s after the Standard Bronze Turkey was developed. Eventually, the breed lost popularity in favor of the Broad Breasted varieties, as was the case with so many of the heritage breeds. Heritage breeds grow slower than the Broad Breasted varieties and are ready to process around 28 weeks.
One reason that the Broad Breasted varieties became more popular is that consumers seem to prefer birds with light-colored pin feathers. Some people feel that poultry with light-colored pin feathers produce a cleaner-looking carcass. Narragansetts do have some pigmentation where their pin feathers are. The pigmentation does not indicate dirt or anything of the kind but is something that newcomers to raising heritage breeds should be aware of.
Min: 5Max: 10