The Slate or Blue Slate turkey is a breed of domestic turkey known for the slate gray color of its plumage, the lighter-colored birds are sometimes called lavender turkeys. Slate-type turkeys can indeed be any number of shades between pure black and white, however, only ash-gray birds are eligible to be displayed under the directive of the American Poultry Association, which they admitted as a variety in 1874.
Slate turkeys are listed as critically endangered by the American Livestock Cried Breeds Conservancy, and meet the definition of an inherited breed of turkey.
The Slate or Ardesia turkey is a breed of domestic turkey from the United States. It is also known as blue slate turkey and lavender turkey and is popular for the slate gray color of its plumage. The exact place of origin of this breed is unknown and there is speculation about how it developed. There are theories that it is a cross between a black specimen and an oriental wild turkey. Another theory is that the breed developed from a cross between a black turkey and a white turkey (although this has not been proven due to little genetic evidence).
The slate turkey was recognized as a breed by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1874, today it is classified as critically endangered by The Livestock Conservancy and meets the definition of an inherited breed of turkey.
Blue Slate Turkey Characteristics
Slate turkeys are medium to large-sized birds with a very beautiful appearance, they can be any number of shades between pure black and white, but only ash gray birds are eligible to be displayed under the Standard of Perfection directive of the American Poultry Association.
These birds are named primarily for their coloration. In most cases, its color is solid to ash blue over the entire body, with or without a few black spots. The head, whiskers, and throat of the Slate turkey are red to bluish-white, they also have a horn-colored bill. Their eyes are brown, and their beard area is black, and their legs and fingers are generally pink. The live average body weight of the mature Slate turkey is between 6.3 and 10.5 kilograms.
Although most early texts state that the slate turkey originated from a cross between the black turkey and a white turkey, there is little genetic evidence to support such a conclusion. The gene for the slate turkey is a legitimate mutation that arose just like the blue gene in the Andalusian chicken, it is the result of an unregistered mutation.
An added element of confusion in the definition of variety is that there are two different genetic mutations (one dominant and one recessive) that produce the color of the Ardesia or slate turkey, and these produce slightly different hues. Rusty brown and white markings may be present but are considered a defect.
The Slate or Blue Slate variety gets its name from its color, which goes from solid to ash blue all over the body, with or without some black spots. It is also called a blue or lavender turkey, and females are lighter in color than males.
The head, throat, and beards of meat are red to bluish-white in this animal. The beak is of a horn color; the eyes are brown and the legs are pink. The standard weight for a young turkey is 23 pounds and 14 pounds for a young female. However, since the shale turkey has not been selected for production attributes, including weight gain, for years, many birds may be smaller than the standard.
Careful selection for good health, the ability to mate naturally, and production attributes will restore this variety to its former stature. The slate turkey breed was accepted by the American Poultry Association in 1874. It has been popular in show circles and is gaining popularity in pastured poultry production.
The renewed interest in the fitness, survivability, and superior flavor of shale turkey has captured consumer interest and created a growing niche market. The slate turkey is less well-documented and is more variable in type and color than any other variety. This makes it more difficult to breed consistently than the others. Today its production potential is unknown.
These birds are very strong and tenacious, with a submissive temperament, however, some birds can be somewhat offensive, highly dependent on selection by the breeder, today they are raised mainly for meat production, and due to the excellent flavor of their meat, they produce good size meat.
Slate turkeys are hardy birds. They are mostly docile in terms of temperament, although some birds can become aggressive as already mentioned and chickens generally lay eggs that are spotted or brown in color.
Blue Slate in the Philippines
This breed of turkey is hardly found in the Philippines. There is one breeder in Silay, Cavite but the price is gold. They ship fertilized eggs and they also have other breeds like Bourbon Red. Since the Slate turkey breed is endangered, the price is always expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blue Slate Turkey
Blue Slate turkeys, known for their distinctive slate-blue coloration, are a unique and interesting breed. Here are some frequently asked questions about Blue Slate turkeys:
What is a Blue Slate turkey?
Blue Slate turkey is a heritage breed of turkey known for its slate-blue coloration. It is one of several varieties of heritage turkeys.
What does a Blue Slate turkey look like?
Blue Slate turkeys have a slate-blue coloration with white or light gray on the tips of their feathers. They have a medium to large build with a somewhat streamlined appearance.
What is the origin of Blue Slate turkeys?
Blue Slate turkeys originated in the United States. They are part of the heritage turkey breeds that were present in the country before the development of the Broad Breasted White turkey, which is the most common commercial breed today.
What is their size and weight?
Blue Slate turkeys are a medium to large-sized breed. Adult toms (males) typically weigh between 23-33 pounds, while hens (females) weigh between 13-18 pounds.
What is their temperament?
Blue Slate turkeys are known for being docile and friendly, especially if they are raised by humans from a young age. However, like all turkeys, they can be territorial during the breeding season.
Are Blue Slate turkeys good for meat production?
Yes, Blue Slate turkeys are valued for their meat, which is considered to be of high quality. They have a fine-textured, flavorful flesh.
How do you care for Blue Slate turkeys?
Provide a balanced diet, access to clean water, and appropriate shelter. Ensure that they have enough space to roam and forage. Additionally, protect them from predators, as turkeys can be vulnerable.
Do Blue Slate turkeys lay eggs?
Yes, female Blue Slate turkeys (hens) lay eggs. The eggs are tan or cream-colored and are usually larger than chicken eggs. However, Blue Slate turkeys are not as prolific egg layers as some other poultry breeds.
Can Blue Slate turkeys be kept with other poultry?
Yes, Blue Slate turkeys can be kept with other poultry, but it’s essential to monitor their interactions. Turkeys have different space and nutritional requirements than chickens or ducks, so it’s important to consider these factors when keeping them together.
Are Blue Slate turkeys endangered?
Blue Slate turkeys, like many other heritage breeds, have faced a decline in numbers due to the dominance of commercial turkey breeds. While they are not as common as commercial breeds, efforts are being made to conserve and promote the genetic diversity of heritage turkey breeds, including Blue Slate turkeys.
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