Appearance: four feet tall, with a fifteen to eighteen inch tail and a six foot wing span. Straight, strong legs set well apart. Colour is copper bronze metallic, with a background of brown and black, and white bars on the tail. The head is long, deep and broad with prominent eyes. Toms weigh up to 36 pounds and hens up to twenty pounds.
Most Popular variety in the US. Recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874
Breed is a cross between the Eastern Species of North American wild turkey and the domestic turkeys brought by colonists from Europe.
These were crossed with larger, faster growing US stocks and the resulting bird, the Broad Breasted Bronze, which became the commercial variety of choice.
Further selection improved meat production, especially that of breast meat, growth rate, and other performance qualities.
At the same time conformation (especially the shortening of the legs and the keel) nearly eliminated their ability to mate naturally. For this reason, the Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys have been artificially inseminated since the 1960’s.
The Broad Breasted Bronze was replaced by the Large White (or breasted White) turkey beginning in the 1960’s.
Processors favoured the white feathered variety because it produced a cleaner-looking carcass.
Today, the Bronze is no longer used by the turkey industry, but it is promoted for seasonal, small-scale production.
The Bronze was not used for production until the early 21st century, when renewed interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flavour captured consumer interest and created a growing market niche.
Careful selection for good health, ability to mate naturally, and production attributes will return this variety to its former stature. Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys are in need of conservation.
Only a few hatcheries maintain breeding flocks, and many of these are reducing in their number. Marketing strategies need to be developed for each type that does not undermine the other.