The Ridley Bronze Turkey, in a brief summary, is Canada’s Heritage Turkey that is in a frightful situation of being lost forever. They are a wonderfully friendly breed of turkey, whose population has dwindled to the point of being declared “Critical” by Rare Breeds Canada with the last census being taken in 2015 and finding only 250 breeding females counted. That’s it. That’s all. 250 breeding females.
These birds were developed in Saskatchewan in the 1940’s, bred for hardiness and taste and guess what? They can reproduce naturally.
What you say? Can reproduce naturally? Don’t all turkey’s have that ability?
Unfortunately not. Due to the demand for breast meat, the turkey breeders have responded with breeding the turkeys with the largest breast meat possible… which results in the males not able to properly mount the girls. So yes, you’re right… as your mind now wanders, commercial turkeys are… ahem… artificially inseminated.
But why should you raise Ridley Bronze Heritage Turkeys? We have found them to be friendly, tremendously entertaining with their curious antics while they free range, with the toms putting on a ridiculous display of strutting and puffing when the slightest attention is paid to them. If you’re lucky, you can witness a dance competition, with multiple toms preforming their best foot-stomping routine.
At our farm, we free range our birds when they are old enough – we make this highly scientific determination when we feel that our two cats won’t try for a turkey dinner of their own. Currently, we secure them in our chicken run at night when they aren’t being particularly stubborn and wanting to roost elsewhere. Our laying females are secured in a pen during the spring and summer, otherwise they instinctively cruise out to the forested edges to nest and lay their eggs – not something encouraged here due to the surrounding coyote population. We collect and incubate the eggs, although the hens apparently are excellent mothers. Hopefully we can do this next year, or later this summer!
So if your ready to give Ridley Bronze Heritage Turkeys a try, send us an e-mail, and we can hopefully answer any questions you have before you start a flock – or rafter – of your own!