There is actually only one breed of turkey with several varieties, although many people do refer to these varieties as breeds.
Turkeys are raised for meat, but not eggs. There are no varieties of turkeys that have been developed for egg production (as with chickens, ducks, and quail). As a result, turkeys do not produce many eggs.
- Turkey is singular; turkeys is plural
- Tom = adult male turkey (also often referred to as a 'gobbler')
- Hen = adult female turkey
- Poult = young (baby) turkey
- Jake = young male turkey
- Jenny = young female turkey
- Caruncle = brightly colored growths on the throat region. Turns bright red when a tom is upset or during courtship activities.
- Snood = flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak. Engorges and turns bright red when a tom is upset or during courtship activities.
- Wattle = flap of skin under the turkey's chin. Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship
- Beard = stiff hair-like projections from the top of the neck of a tom (male turkey)
As turkeys get older it is easier to tell the males (toms) form the females (hens).
- Toms are typically larger than hens
- Toms have a larger snood (the fleshy material that hangs from their head) than hens
- Toms have larger caruncles (the fleshy bumps on the top of hteir necks) than females
- Sexually mature toms will grow a beard (stiff hair-like projects from the top of their neck)
- Toms will strut
Broad-breasted white is hte most common type of turkey raised commercially in the United States. It has a larger breast than the other varieties of turkeys.
The term heritage turkey refers to naturally mating turkey breeds indigenous to the Americas. These varieties date back to early colonial times. They are Beltsville Small White, Bourbon Red, Jersey Buff, Narragansett, Royal Palm, Slate, Standard Bronze and White Holland. Heritage turkeys grow at a much slower rate than Broad-Breasted Whites. The result is a smaller bird but one with a more balanced dark-to-white meat ratio; a more intense, sometimes gamey, flavor; and a thick layer of fat surrounding the breast.