Silver Phase wilds?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by fancyfowl4ever, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. fancyfowl4ever

    fancyfowl4ever Songster

    Mar 17, 2008
    Cranbrook, BC, Canada
    Hi everyone,

    I was just wondering if anyone knows the genetics behind silver phase wild turkeys(in this case in Merriams). A breeder I know has a wild caught pair of Merriams and about 25% of his poults feather out silver phase(similar colour to a narragansett just a tad darker I think) each and every year.
    Very pretty birds!

    How common are they? Esspecially in captivity?

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  2. turkaholic

    turkaholic Songster

    Jan 2, 2010
    Hi Anna

    I too have wild turkeys (Easterns) that carry the silver or smokey grey phase gene. They are very similar to Narragansett as you said , and each year I get some that are silver and some very light silver. According to the literature that I've read, the Narragansett color is a sex linked gene. If a Narragansett or silver tom is mated to bronze hens, the resulting offspring will be all silver hens and all bronze toms. If the mating is the other way around, bronze tom to a silver hen, all poults will be bronze with the males carrying the silver gene. When these toms are mated to bronze hens, the resulting males will be bronze and half of the hens will be silver. I have found this to be 100 percent correct, as over the past few years I tested this and got exactly what they said. Now this year I am mating one of my bronze wild gobblers that carries the gene, to the silver grey hens. With this I hope to get a silver tom. We'll see!

    The silver variant is not very common in the wild but it does exist in some local populations more frequently than others. It can be found in Easterns, Merriams, and Rios, but I have yet to hear of it in the Osceola, though I suspect it probably occurs there too. I have spoken to some turkey biologists that believe the Narragansett turkey was developed though Domestic/wild pairings with the gene coming from the wild population. I tend to agree. Your friend will raise far more of these silver birds in captivity than would a hen in the wild. Apparently as the poults feather out, the lighter color tends to make them easier targets for predators and their survival rate is lower.

    I'm not sure how common they are in captivity, but other wild turkey breeders have probably come across them.

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