It’s interesting to me that a bird can be so magnificent and so unattractive all at the same time. This only seems to be true of the beautiful turkey called the Royal Palm. Never have I seen a turkey so strikingly beautiful as the Royal Palm. Currently we have five Royal Palms, three males and two females. I talked a little bit about my plan for these turkeys in my Poultry Plan but I am going to share more of the turkey raising plan today.
5 month old Royal Palm tom.
The reason we chose to raise these turkeys was to have a sustainable meat source. Our plan is to keep one of the three males and both females for breeding. Their eggs and offspring will become a food source for our family. The reason I chose the Royal Palm turkey over the other breeds of turkeys was mainly for two reasons. One, the Royal Palm is a gorgeous bird. I thought if I was going to have turkeys roaming my homestead they might as well be nice looking birds. Two, the Royal Palm is a small breed of turkey. Unlike the Large Whites and Bronze Breasted, the Royal Palm is not known to reach an enormous 40+ pounds making it economical to feed and better foragers. The smaller size is also appealing to me because it’s means a more manageable size bird to prepare during the non-holiday cooking season. I am not interested in having to figure out what do with with 25 + lbs of meat several times a year.
Having turkeys around the homestead has definitely been entertaining. At 5 months of age, the males are becoming more competitive with each other. Thankfully there has been no real fighting yet. But we do hear a lot of gobbling. There is nothing like early morning turkey gobbling to get you into the mood for autumn and turkey dinner. The sounds around the homestead lately have been both pleasantly peaceful and extremely annoying. But mostly, I love it all. The cockadoodle dooing, quacking, baaing and whinnying would be complete without the gobble gobbling :).
I can't help but noticing how much these turkey's resemble vultures.
The females turkeys have been much more easy going. They don’t care who’s coming or going. They don’t follow visitors to the homestead around trying to figure out what their intentions are. No slow steady walking, with fanned out feathers or an occasional gobble to interrupt conversation. No, the females pretty much keep to themselves. With one exception. A rooster has no business trying to round up female turkeys and my rooster has had a couple of altercations with them because he doesn’t seem to understand this. I found one female holding my rooster down in a chicken headlock until I had to physically separate them. It was a very interesting sight indeed.
The Royal Palms make great foragers and are very curious.
All in all, I really enjoy having the turkeys. My property is not fenced and I was in blissful ignorance of their occasional roaming the neighborhood until my neighbor across the street said, “Hey, your turkeys are coming up to my front door”. Oops! And then they decided across the street wasn’t enough of a challenge so they went down the street (taking several chickens along with them) to check out my other neighbor’s yard and got trapped in the fence. You should have seen my friend and I trying to round up those birds before our not-so-understanding neighbor arrived back home. It was an entertaining sight I am sure. What made them decide to go so far, I couldn’t tell you but now I know they are going to need to be locked up. No more free ranging turkeys for a while anyway.
The Royal Palm is a strikingly attractive and small-sized turkey variety. The first birds in America to have the Palm color pattern appeared in a mixed flock of Black, Bronze, Narragansett, and Wild turkeys on the farm of Enoch Carson of Lake Worth, Florida in the 1920s. Further selection has been made since then to stabilize the consistency of color and other characteristics. As an anonymous breeder wrote toFeathered World magazine in 1931, “Turkeys of this type of coloration do crop up by chance where different color varieties are crossed . . . but it takes years to perfect their markings.” The Royal Palm was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1971. It is similar to a European variety called the Pied, Crollwitz, or Black-laced White, which has been known since the 1700s.
Royal Palms are active, thrifty turkeys, excellent foragers, and good flyers. Standard weights are 16 pounds for young toms and 10 pounds for young hens. The Royal Palm has not been purposefully selected for either growth rate or muscling, being used primarily as an exhibition variety.
Do you have any entertaining turkey stories to share? If so, please do share :).