Bourbon Red Turkeys

Saturday, I was at a friends house for Bible study and as we were wrapping up, I saw these two lovely turkeys walking across their backyard. This was actually my first experience being near live turkeys.  Crazy, right?  I began asking her husband about their experience with raising turkeys and this particular breed. He said these two turkeys were Bourbon Reds.  They were named “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas” with the original intent of butchering them for the holidays. However, as they matured, they realized they probably had a tom and hen and thought it better to keep them to try and breed.

Bourbon Red Tom and Hen Turkeys
Bourbon Red Turkeys

Jon has randomly mentioned that at some point he wanted to get turkeys, but to be quite honest I have never given it much consideration before. So, now with business of getting our new farm ready to move to soon and for the first time having pregnant Nigerian dwarf goats due at the end of February, why in the world am I now pondering turkeys?!? Is there not enough new happenings going on?

I have always heard that turkeys can be quite aggressive. I didn’t even want an aggressive rooster (bad childhood experience) so the thought of a much bigger aggressive bird just never appealed to me. I discussed this with our friends. He said growing up they had a different breed of turkey that generally had been aggressive. I forget what breed he said it was. However, he said they have raised the Bourbon Red variety for a while now and have had no issues with them at all. He said all of them were always calm and docile and they never had any issues allowing their Bourbon Red turkeys to freely roam un-caged with the other fowl. They have young children, ducks, chickens, and dogs that are all co-existing happily.

As I was leaving the turkeys had meandered their way to the front of the house right at my car. They did not pay me any mind at all. At that point, I just had to take a picture of them. So, now I am pondering turkey, not just any turkeys but Bourbon Red. I have began just a little surface research on them and they are one of the eight official heritage breeds accepted by the APA and do not appear to be as popular these days due to other more commercialized breeds and some consider them to be a threatened breed.

I would love to know if any of you have experience with this breed or other breed of turkeys for backyard farming and specifically in your opinion which breeds are docile or breeds to avoid.