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Turkey Tom Quandary

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by ladyrsanti, May 7, 2016.

  1. ladyrsanti

    ladyrsanti Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a pair of bourbon reds, about one year old. They're probably related as I bought them from the same breeder. I had intended on raising both for T-day dinner last fall but when I found out that they were a pair, I got greedy and hung onto them, hatching their eggs this spring. I've got 8 healthy poults in the brooder. But dad's gotten really big and mean...attacks if you look at him wrong. I never go into the pen without a rake to keep him at a distance but I'm worried about the kids and anyone who might happen upon him when he jumps the fence (which he does now and again). Is there such a thing as a well-behaved tom? This guy will be going to the freezer soon but if I want turkey dinner in years to come, do I keep a tom from his offspring for the original hen? Or is that too much inbreeding? Should I buy an unrelated tom? Start over with a completely new pair? What's the smartest way to keep turkeys in our freezer year after year and keeping the genetics relatively healthy? I feel like there's a strategy to this that I'm not aware of.

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  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    I currently have 5 toms, mine have never bothered me. I've had others too in the past, only two have been aggressive and both were butchered. I wouldn't breed from an aggressive tom. You can try to see if one of the poults behaves better, otherwise I would source a different Tom and try again. I personally have purchased a variety of varieties so most of mine aren't related so breeding them doesn't cause a problem.
     
  3. ShannonR

    ShannonR Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes, there are well behaved toms. I would totally cull the mean one. And his sons...how is your hen's attitude BTW?

    Next year, put an unrelated tom over what you keep over the winter if you can get one. IMO, even a good example of the breed that is hatchery stock might be better than breeding son back to mom. You get the good with the bad when you inbreed, including that nasty attitude.
    And, once you have backcrossed to a parent or whatnot all those traits, both good and bad will be much harder to breed back out of the flock.

    The poults should still be healthy for quite a few generations even if you do inbreed but I have found it washes out the red color to orange if there is a lot of generations of it going on.

    Hope this helps.
    Shannon
     
  4. R2elk

    R2elk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This color change happens because the original turkeys were not pure and had hidden recessive genes. If the originals were pure without any hidden recessive color genes, this color change won't happen. There are far too many people selling turkeys that are not pure as pure breeds and others selling turkeys as something they are not.
     
  5. ShannonR

    ShannonR Out Of The Brooder

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    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...CB8wAg&usg=AFQjCNFpi8h1F59_UrFU7rAwHQMyW86jHg

    For your reference.

    I believe what happens with continued inbreeding, is the color slowly starts to revert back to buff, which is what reds were originally developed from.
    Further, in the particular case I have in mind the color washing was only happening in the hens, not the toms produced from the inbreeding. There were some problems with the color transition in individual birds as well, white against red lines weren't as crisp. There was no outcrossing in this flock whatsoever, in fact the same genetics with no new blood were used for a decade or more in this particular flock.

    When I had a chance to work with this strain of inbred Reds the color was corrected by the second generation by selecting well colored Toms that were unrelated. Never once did any other traits appear that would make me think the birds I was working with weren't purebred.

    When I see a really BIG bourbon red tom
    with obvious coloring issues I immediately suspect outcrossing for carcass size, though.
    With hens there are a couple of things you can check such as the white flecking on the chest that makes it a little easier to tell what you've got.

    Leg color is a dead giveaway for not quite purebred reds such as some hatcheries sell too...look for pink legs!


    Shannon
     
  6. R2elk

    R2elk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Inbreeding (brother to sister) and line breeding (father or mother to son or daughter) will definitely bring out any hidden recessive genes. Unless there is a gene mutation, the change in colors has to come from hidden recessive genes.

    By selecting good well colored toms you were reinforcing the dominant color genes which once again were suppressing the recessive genes.
     
  7. ShannonR

    ShannonR Out Of The Brooder

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    I would think that a gene mutation could very well occur after several generations of inbreeding, as with other animals. I know birds are less susceptible to the ill genetic effects of inbreeding but it can and does happen, eventually.

    I totally see where you are coming from with he color traits being passed on in the breed, please don't get me wrong. By all means yes, the coloring should breed true. But color alone does not make the breed and with everything else correct in the flock I worked with it really made me stop and think about things.
    The pattern and red color was breeding true but the dark red was gradually reverting to more of a bright orange. Particularly in the hens. Eye color, legs, structure, size and everything else were good.

    Just my experience!
    Shannon
     
  8. R2elk

    R2elk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    While a mutation is possible it does not seem to happen as frequently in turkeys as it does in guineas for example.

    The recessive color gene showing up in inbreeding or line breeding is very common and is just basic genetics. There is also the fact that a number of color genes in turkeys are not completely dominant which could explain the gradual color change as the generations went by.

    The color genes are separate from the genes for "Eye color, legs, structure, size and everything else" and would not be expected to change those parameters.
     
  9. ladyrsanti

    ladyrsanti Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the info! The hen seems great, except that she failed at being a broody her first go. She would spend all of some days on the nest and then most of others in the yard and eventually I had to get rid of her dead and rotting eggs, lots of quitters. Maybe next year? I hatched a clutch in the incubator this spring, not trusting her to do it.

    I know a couple people in my area who breed them so I will try to get a new tom.
     
  10. ShannonR

    ShannonR Out Of The Brooder

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    If you were closer I would give you a young tom, he's pretty nice quality actually...just have too many toms and so he's slated for freezer camp.

    As it is, I am hoping to sell him at a show I'm attending this fall.
     

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