There are a variety of different turkey breeds out there. One breed that you may have never heard of is the Midget White turkey. While not as common, these small turkeys have piqued the interest of many animal and culinary enthusiasts for their small stature and delicious meat.
Midget White turkeys are a domesticated turkey breed. Their name indicates their size, as they are characteristically smaller than most turkeys. In fact, they are the smallest standard domestic turkey breed and are just slightly larger than chickens.
Want to know more about this unique turkey? In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Midget White turkey breeds, including:
- What they are
- Their main characteristics
- What they’re used for
- How to raise them
By the end, you may even want to raise one of these unique turkeys yourself!
What Are Midget White Turkeys?
Midget White turkeys were bred in the early 1960s by crossing the extremely popular Broad Breasted White turkey with a Royal Palm – a breed not usually eaten and more commonly kept for ornamental purposes.
The result of this cross-breeding looks like a miniature version of the Broad Breasted White turkey. While the original breeders anticipated the Midget White turkey to be profitable and to meet the demand for smaller turkeys, it proved to not be very popular amongst consumers.
Midget White turkeys were considered extinct until recently when the BBC reported that 90 were found in Alabama.
Today, Midget White turkeys are known as “heritage turkeys,” meaning that they carry historical characteristics that are no longer present in modern-day turkeys raised for consumption. You can raise them in a way more similar to a wild turkey.
There are a few characteristics, however, that make these turkeys unique. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Main Characteristics of Midget White Turkeys
As with other heritage turkeys, Midget White turkeys have characteristics that differentiate them from more common breeds. The most obvious characteristic is their small size, but other factors make them unique.
For starters, even though they’re already a small breed, these turkeys grow more slowly than other domesticated turkeys because they have a longer lifespan.
One similarity these turkeys have with other breeds is that, while they are less likely to fly as they get older, Midget White turkeys can still fly in short bursts.
Midget White turkeys also spend most of their time outdoors, which makes them more closely related to wild turkeys. As a result, their meat is gamier than that of other breeds.
What Are Midget White Turkeys Used For?
Like other turkeys, the Midget White turkey is primarily raised for its meat. However, unlike other breeds of turkeys, Midget White turkeys are not as commonly found in grocery stores or on restaurant menus. They are considered rare and protected by the Livestock Conservatory. As a result, these turkeys are much more expensive than other breeds, cost more to keep, and, therefore, are lower in demand.
However, many chefs and restaurants interested in rare foods have formed a renewed interest in this breed of turkey for its flavor and health benefits.
Those who have eaten Midget White turkeys describe the flavor as gamier than other domesticated turkeys, especially considering that they have less breast meat and typically get more exercise than other breeds. Their meat usually needs to be cooked longer and slower than other turkeys.
Their meat is considered a delicacy and superior to that of other turkey breeds. In terms of nutrition, Midget White turkeys are thought to be more healthful and full of higher levels of nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.
How do you raise these unique turkeys? It isn’t as difficult as you might think.
How to Raise Midget White Turkeys
Raising Midget White turkeys isn’t too different from raising other domesticated turkeys. There are only a few things that you’ll want to watch out for if you choose to raise these types of turkeys:
- As with other turkey breeds, Midget White turkeys are social, so you must get at least two individual turkeys to raise so that they can keep each other company.
- White Midget hens lay about 60 to 80 eggs per year, even less than other domesticated turkeys that already lay a low number of eggs (about 100 per year). They have a 75% to 80% hatchability rate.
- If you want to maintain the small size of the Midget White turkey, pay special attention to breeding, especially if you have other types of turkeys as well.
- Due to their small stature, you don’t need as much space to raise Midget White turkeys as you would with other turkey breeds.
- Midget White turkeys are often confused with another variety of turkeys: the Beltsville Small White. These turkeys are also small and white, but the two have many differences. Make sure you get the right breed when seeking your Midget White turkey.
Conclusion: Midget White Turkeys Are Small But Charming
While Midget White turkeys are tiny compared to the turkeys we’re used to, these turkeys are just as charming as other domesticated breeds, if not more so.
If you’re considering turkey farming on a smaller piece of land, you may want to consider Midget Whites. Even though their rarity makes them more expensive than other turkey breeds, they are a unique and unusually friendly animal that makes great pets if that’s your primary goal.