Saturday, May 18Food Security Matters

Midget White Turkey Breed Profile and Characteristics

The Midget White Turkey is a breed of domestic turkey named for its white plumage and small stature. The breed is the smallest standard variety of turkey, and with males around 13 pounds and females 8-10 pounds, it weighs only slightly more than larger chickens.

Midget white turkeys are a rare breed of heritage turkeys that are rated “Critical” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and are also listed in the Ark of Taste, a catalog of endangered foods.

Midget White Turkey History and Origin

The white dwarf turkey is a breed of domestic turkey from the United States. Named for its white plumage and small stature, it is the smallest standard variety of turkey, and today it is a rare inherited breed of turkey. It was created in the early 1960s by Dr. J. Robert Smyth of the University of Massachusetts.

The breed was developed to meet anticipated demand for a small version of the wide-breasted turkey. Because this market did not develop as predicted, the Midget White turkey never became widely popular.midget-white-turkey

The Midget White turkey is sometimes shown in the same class as the broad-breasted white turkey, but despite the similarity, it was bred from different lines, mainly white commercial turkeys and other breeds. The bird is relatively friendly and is especially well adapted to being raised on small farms and a family farm.

Breed Characteristics

Midget White turkeys are relatively smaller birds. Weighing only slightly more than the largest roosters, they are also mainly white with a broad chest. They have the appearance of a miniature version of the wide-breasted white turkey.

The average body weight of male small white turkeys is about 5.9 kilograms. And the live average body weight of the mature hen ranges from 3.6 to 4.5 kilograms. The dwarf white turkey is a breed for meat and is raised primarily for meat production.

Breed Classification

The Midget White Turkey was created in the early 1960s by Dr. J. Robert Smyth at the University of Massachusetts. It was developed to meet anticipated demand for a small version of the wide-breast turkey that is also white. Since this market did not develop as planned, the dwarf white turkey never became very popular.

Shortly after the development of the Midget White turkey, the University of Massachusetts had to reduce its poultry holdings. The dwarf white turkeys were scattered. Dr. Bernie Wentworth, a former Dr. Smyth’s graduate student, never forgot these turkeys. To his surprise, Dr. Wentworth, who had taken a position on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, found some of these turkeys, with the wing bands of the University of Massachusetts, in a backyard hobbyist’s herd.

These birds were added to the poultry program at the University of Wisconsin, which continued to refine and then set the standard for the dwarf white variety we know today. Dr. Wentworth is widely recognized for preventing the breed’s extinction. As Dr. Wentworth prepared to retire in the late 1990s, the university decided to disperse the herd.

Some were passed on to poultry hobbyists, but most of the flock was sent to the USDA poultry facility in Beltsville, Maryland. The Beltsville flock dispersed in April 2005 and the remaining birds were distributed to poultry enthusiasts located in the eastern United States.

The survival of this breed is now entirely in the hands of individuals. It is important to note that the dwarf white turkey has no genetic relationship to the wide-breasted white turkey and that the two breeds are distinct and must be managed separately.

Midget White Turkey behavior

Some birds can fly, so care must be taken to prevent them from escaping. But as they gain weight, adult turkeys are less likely to fly.

They are unusually friendly and generally approach people and pets without much concern. They are also especially suitable to be raised on small farms and a normal farm. However, you can take a look at the breed’s full profile on a poultry farming website.

Breed Reproduction

Dwarf white turkeys are a relatively energetic and hardy breed of turkey. They were selected for increased egg production by a fertility and hatchability center in Wisconsin. Hens lay an average of 60 to 80 large eggs per year, with a hatchability of 75 to 80 percent.

The eggs of these types of turkeys are pale cream to medium brown with spots. Care must be taken when raising dwarf white turkeys in breeder selection to retain the small size of the breed.

The Midget White turkey, with its broad chest, has the appearance of a larger, white miniature commercial turkey. This quality gives the variety good meat production and turns the white turkey into a fine table bird.

Breed Conservation

The dwarf white turkey is a relatively new breed, it is the result of the cross between the white-breasted white turkey and the Cröllwitzer turkey. It is classified as “Critical” by The Livestock Conservancy, and the breed is also listed in the Ark of Taste, which is a catalog of endangered foods.

As recently as 2014, the BBC reported that these birds were thought to be extinct until around 90 of them were found in Alabama. However, you can check the full breed profile on a poultry website.

Questions Related to Midget White Turkey Breed

What is midget white turkey used for?

The Midget White turkey is a meat breed, and it is raised mainly for meat production.

What is the tastiest turkey breed?

In most blind taste tests, the Midget White Turkey, a smaller variety of Broad Breasted Whites, reigns supreme as the best-tasting meat turkey breed. According to a taste test performed at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, Virginia, in 2008, Midget White is the best-tasting meat turkey breed, followed by the Bourbon Red.

What is the rarest type of turkey?

The Auburn, also known as the Light Brown, is a breed of domestic turkey. A heritage turkey, the Auburn is one of the rarest varieties currently in existence. It has been referenced by name in written records since the 18th century and is named after the light reddish-brown color of its plumage.

Are Midget White turkeys friendly?

In recent years, Midget Whites have developed a reputation as a friendly, small-flock turkey with excellent food qualities, perfect for raising in backyards and on urban homesteads.

Do bigger turkeys taste better?

The flavor of a bird is determined by several additional factors, which may be more important than whether your turkey is fresh or frozen. Size is key — smaller birds tend to be more tender; if you have a lot of guests coming, think about cooking two small turkeys instead of one large one.

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