In the fall of 2016, we acquired a small group of what we were told were Beltsville Small White Turkeys. Upon further research, we discovered that they are actually Midget White Turkeys. Also to our surprise, our young Midget White turkey hens began laying eggs in January 2017. Since we weren't sure how long they would continue to lay eggs, we collected them up each day and placed them in an incubator. By spring 2017, we had hatched out over 50 Midget White turkey poults. With more than enough turkey poults, we stopped collecting their eggs and let the two turkeys hens continue to lay and set the rest of the eggs. They hatched out 6 babies but only two survived, just enough to keep both moms happy with something important to do for the rest of the summer.
Midget White Turkeys were developed at the University of Massachusetts in the 1960's in response to consumer demand for a roasting turkey that had a good amount of breast meat, but was smaller than the recently developed large Broad Breasted White Turkey breed. The breeds that they used to arrive at the Midget White turkey breed were the Broad Breasted White turkey and the Royal Palm turkey according to information found on The Livestock Conservancy website. Mature turkeys range in size from about 8 lbs. for hens up to about 13 lbs. for young toms. Mature birds can weigh a few more pounds. Unfortunately, the Midget White never gained the popularity that the Beltsville Small White turkeys did in the 1950's and 1960's.
Today, this wonderful heritage breed of turkey is listed as on the "Watch" list by the Livestock Conservancy due to the very small numbers that exist. The Watch list indicates that there are fewer than 2,500 registrations in the U.S. per year and an estimated global population of less than 10,000. Although these animals are not recognized as an official breed by the American Poultry Association (APA) they are a distinct breed of turkey.
Midget White Turkeys have white plumage, a black beard, horn colored beaks and blueish-brown eyes, heads ranging in color from red to blueish white, and pinkish white toes and shanks. They are very similar to the Beltsville Small White turkey in appearance. Probably one of the easiest ways to distinguish whether you have a Midget or a Beltsville is that the Midget babies are completely yellow in color whereas the Beltsville babies are yellow but have a brownish colored head. In addition, the Midgets grow to a slightly smaller adult size than the Beltsvilles. The Midget White turkeys are prolific breeders and can lay 60 - 80 eggs per year and hatchability is 75-80%, which is probably why we got so many poults from just 2 hens.
Our plan is to raise roasting turkeys using portable enclosures to keep them safe from predators and to also keep them from wandering (or flying) away from the farm. They will be moved daily so that they can eat grass and bugs and weed seeds in addition to a high protein turkey feed. If interested in purchasing a roasting turkey for Thanksgiving or even for everyday consumption, please see our Meat Products Available page.
Midget White turkey babies and the two brownish ones are Bourbon Red turkey babies which we also raise here on the farm.