Skip to content

Bourbon Red

June 25, 2010

We’ll have to add some photos of the turkeys one of these days.  The little guy (and gal?) really sprouted up while we were in Wisconsin last weekend.  In the meantime, here’s a little more background about the breed from the Slow Food Foundation’s Ark of Taste:

Bourbon Red
United States

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 on conservation efforts, contact:
Pittsboro, NC
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
P.O. Box 477
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Pittsboro, NC
Phone: 919-542-5704




One Comment leave one →
  1. Amanda Pants permalink
    June 26, 2010 8:45 am

    I looked up a little more about the turkey, because I love turkeys, and wanted to see a picture, and I wanted to find something that didn’t end with a description of the birds’ flavor… (no luck). Anyway, I learned they are excellent foragers, which makes me think you ought to train them to play hide-and-go-seek or become rescue turkeys. Then I found a description that says they are “an American food in danger of extinction”. When I read things like that, I really am reminded of the depth of separation between the average consumer and their food. These animals are no longer even thought of outside the dinner plate. They are not “American birds in danger of extinction” or “even in danger of becoming unavailable for breeding for consumption”. They are a food that will no longer be available. Never mind that this is a (really beautiful) animal that will cease to to exist if the insatiable appetite of the American meat eater is not checked. Millions of years of evolution (or a fantastic stroke of creative genius, depending on your world-view) do not matter at all.
    I understand the idea of sustainable farming and humane breeding and slaughter of animals for consumption, on the premise that Veganism doesn’t really seem to be sweeping the nation and there ought to be an alternative. And, believe me, I get why – if people are going to eat meat there MUST be providers who aren’t going to cause unnecessary suffering (etc) to the animals while they are alive and during the slaughter process. But then again, I wonder if the Vegan/human/heritage farms will do more than provide some sort of exceptionally special, expensive, fancy variety of meat, which satisfies the affluent conflicted omnivore, or whatever. The average consumer wont be able to afford sustainable animal products (much the same way as the average consumer STILL can’t afford to buy organic). I have to wonder if there is also some level of pride and elite-status associated with being able to purchase a Frank Reese heritage turkey (, which makes sense in light of the way ethical consumption is a class issue in general…. I appreciate the way Mr. Reese thinks about his animals, and the way he treats them, but he is still raising an animal that is nearly extinct for slaughter so the likes of Michael Pollan can feel better about how they spend their money. Anyway. Good morning rant. What a pessimist!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: