The Bourbon Red turkey, also known as the Bourbon Butternut or Kentucky Red, was named for Bourbon County, Kentucky, in the Bluegrass Region, where it originated. This variety was developed from the Buff, an historic variety of turkey known in the Mid-Atlantic States. It resulted from stocks taken to Kentucky and selected for improved meat production and a darker red color. The American Poultry Association recognized the Bourbon Red variety in 1909, and it was ambitiously promoted. The Bourbon Red’s supporters emphasized its production-oriented conformation, including a heavy breast and richly flavored meat. The breed was more profitable than the Buff, which soon fell into decline.
Bourbon Red turkeys are handsome in appearance. They have brownish to dark red plumage with white in the flight and tail feathers. The tail has soft red bars crossing the main feathers near the end. Body feathers on the toms may be edged in black. The neck and breast feathers are chestnut mahogany, and the undercolor feathers are light buff to almost white. The beak is light horn at the tip and dark at base. The throat wattle is red, changeable to bluish white, and the beard is black. The standard weights are 33 pounds for toms and 18 pounds for hens.
For More Information
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
P.O. Box 477
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities
Dr. Charles R.H. Everett, Secretary-Treasurer
1057 Nick Watts Road
Lugoff, SC 29078
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