Are they different breeds...or just different colors?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Lagerdogger, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A recent thread on Mutts vs Lilacs has opened up a discussion that many turkey fans may not be watching. (I would cite the thread but I'm not computer literate enough, sorry).

    Without all the history, the gist of the question is "do you consider different heritage turkeys to be different breeds like labrador retreiver and english setter, or just different colors of one breed, like black, yellow, and chocolate labs?"

    Its interesting to think about. Different breed of dogs have been selected for various traits in appearance and behavior. Following this logic, turkeys would have at least three breeds; wild, heritage, and broad-breasted. Heritage birds have been selected for domestication and broad-breasteds have been selected for jumbo meat production.

    But among the heritage strains, would you consider bourbon red to be a different breed than a royal palm, or a different color of the same breed. I often hear them refered to as heritage breeds, but are they? In dogs, when you cross a member of a breed with another member of the same breed, the outcome is pups of that breed, even though colors may vary. But if you cross breeds, you get mutts. Can you get a mutt turkey, or do you just mix up the color genes within the heritage turkey breed?

    I pose this as a question of opinion. Are there resources out there that have already answered the question? And if they have, so what! Let's talk about it anyway.
     
  2. Tunastopper

    Tunastopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You must have just posted this as I was posting on the mutts tread. I think of turkeys as one breed with different colors. I don't think the color has to do with the size of the turkey or the temperment. Some colors might have some fertility differences linked to the color gene. Standards and selection has changed the turkeys into different sizes and growth rates. They will continue to change depending on our selection. You can select for size with any color.

    Comparing to dogs, freinds of mine raise champion English bull dogs. They have changed over the years. People selected from large heads and wide shoulders. Most of the dogs cannot give birth naturally. The dogs are still English bull dogs even if they can't give birth.

    BB turkeys could be selected for smaller breast and breed naturally again, but I don't see that happening. I don't even think it should happen.

    With all types of animals we have specialized purposes for them even in the same breed making them very different. A quarter horse that races or jumps will not look like a quarter horse that does cutting. Your hunting strain dogs, or herding dogs do not look like the show ring dogs of the same breed. They should but they don't.
     
  3. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    I would agree the wilds, heritage and BB's are different breeds now. Within the heritage they are color varietes

    Steve
     
  4. MrChicken207

    MrChicken207 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would poit the arguement that smaller heritage breeds (RP, Midget White) could be considered a different breed than the larger (BR, Narr., Holland White). But that would only leave 4 "breeds". Some might argue that each type of wild turkey (Eastern, Osceola, Merriams) might each be considered a different breed because they have learned to thrive in idfferent environments form each other, AND they don't have the same coloration.
     
  5. Tunastopper

    Tunastopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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  6. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From the breeding handbook cited in tunastoppers post..."a breed is a group of animals selected to have a uniform appearance that distinguishes them from other groups of animals within the same species. When mated together, members of a breed consistently reproduce this same type."

    I was just about to concede that hertitage turkeys are just different colors on the grounds that they can be easily reproduced from non-similar colors. For instance, if you give me a Royal Palm and a Bourbon Red, I can get Standard Bronze and Narragansett by selectively crossing offspring in two generations. As I think about this, I'm still leaning towards calling heritage birds colors and not breeds. In the Mutt vs Lilac thread, I made the argument that some heritage turkeys were breeds because they reproduced themselves, and some were crossbreeds that didn't breed true. But I can't take a labrador and a poodle, and make a german shepard. Dogs are clearly distinct breed and turkeys seem not to be.

    I do believe that a good case can be made for calling heritage turkeys a different breed than wild turkeys, and I think I might agree with Mr Chicken (a name I can hardly type without laughing) that there is more than one wild breed. I'm undecided about broad-breasted right now, though by definition, they have been selected to have a different appearance (shape) that reproduces itself.
     
  7. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Here is some more info for the discussion:

    ...However, the lack of statistical significance appears to support the long-held view that all turkey varieties are a single breed, because the use of 10 markers distributed on different chromosomes may represent the most unbiased estimate of the relationships to date.

    From: Microsatellite Marker-Based Genetic Analysis of Relatedness Between Commercial and Heritage Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo)
    Poultry Science: 2007 Poultry Science 86:46–49 http://ps.fass.org/cgi/reprint/86/1/46

    Elementary `phylogenetic' map of `genetic distance' between varieties. Research directed at eventual inclusion of favorable heritage traits in commercial lines.​
     
  8. Tunastopper

    Tunastopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  9. Tunastopper

    Tunastopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The part of the ALBC link that I thought was interesting was " Some have proposed that genetic conservation can be accomplished by mixing all of the genes of many breeds into a crossbred soup. Theoretically, specific genes and combinations could then be recovered if and when they were needed. This method would be time consuming and expensive, if indeed it is possible. In contrast, the conservation of living breeds proven for specific tasks and environments protects genetic resources in an accessible form. The combinations already present as breeds are the genetic resources most easily studied, used, and conserved."

    I think that would work since we now understand the genetics involved in turkeys.
     
  10. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Don't you think the comercial BB turkeys are bred simular to the cornish/rock crosses that have a female and male line/ grandmother and grandfather lines? It is not just a BB turkey bred to a BB turkey. Its a hybrid turkey.

    I didn't realize this. The books I've read talk about artificially inseminating broad-breasted birds, so I just thought they were breeding BB toms to BB hens, and constantly selecting for heavier birds.

    I also thought it was interesting in the ALBC link that they thought that maintaining distinct color lines was the best way to protect genetic diversity. I don't think that is true, especially when many lines are started with just a few birds and have little introduction of new genes. A minimum viable population size is often considered to be 50 unrelated adults. Or must have a constant source of recruitment from outside the local population. Maybe some of the big hatcheries can do that, but most of the hobbyists who keep turkeys probably don't start with a genetically broad population, and don't keep enough birds of each strain/color to maintain the diversity. We end up with lots of little pools with low diversity. But most turkey hobbyists are probably more tuned to the color of the bird they want, and less tuned to the genetics of those colors and ot the diversity of heritage turkeys as a whole.

    One way to turn these pools of little diversity into one pool of high diversity is to share toms. But this risks transferring diseases, and I would guess that most small farmers would rather have the low diversity that they don't think about much than risk the diseases.​
     

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