The search for our ideal turkey breed began with the following criteria:
able to forage for a good portion of their food
able to naturally reproduce
When a unique opportunity to acquire some critically endangered, Beltsville Small Whites presented itself, we jumped at the chance.
Our birds came to us from Ellie Mocker in Brandywine, MD, and are the offspring of turkeys whose hatching eggs were imported from Cirrus Hill Farm in Ontario, Canada. They were hatched in early May of 2019. We have three toms and two hens. So far, they are calm, curious, gentle birds.
The spring 2020 breeding season was a disappointment. Hopefully, this was just a maturity issue. The hens laid only a handful of eggs and, because they had no interest at all in the Tom, none were fertile. We will give them another year to mature and hope for a successful 2021 breeding season.
The Beltsville Small White breed was developed at the Agricultural Research Station right here in Maryland.
The breed was quite popular for a short time. Ultimately, the broad-breasted white breed, which is currently be raised by commercial growers, replaced this smaller breed.
Sadly, the larger, commercial-breed turkeys must be artificially inseminated in order to reproduce. The Beltsville Small White turkeys are smaller, healthier, and better suited to a sustainable, homestead environment.