American Mammoth Bronze
Scientific Name: Meleagris gallopavo
By maturity, male Bronze Turkeys (toms) usually weigh 25 to 40 pounds, while females (hens) weigh between 14 and 26 pounds. Their feathers are dull black with a hint of greenish brown, and appear to have a metallic sheen in daylight. The rump of this turkey appears particularly bronzed, while the plumage over the frontal regions has more red and green coloration. Bronze Turkeys have white edging about their tail feathers. There are two body types of Bronze Turkey: the unimproved, or wild type, and the Broad-breasted. Broad-breasted Bronze Turkeys have larger, meatier breasts than the wild type and are more commonly used for commercial production.
Male Bronze Turkeys can be distinguished from females by the presence of wattles. The Broad-breasted type of Bronze Turkey cannot naturally mate, as its broad breast prevents it from being physically able to copulate. These turkeys must be artificially inseminated. However, the wild type of Bronze Turkey is able to mate naturally.
The Bronze Turkey is the domestic breed of turkey that is very similar in appearance to the wild North American turkey, though it often grows much larger. These birds, though they have become rarer in recent years, can make fine pets or production birds.
It has been reported that Bronze Turkeys are a bit calmer than other breeds of turkey, making them a bit easier to handle. Handlers say that, when they enter their Bronze Turkeys' enclosures, the birds will come up to them looking for food. Like most turkeys, the Bronze can be susceptible to cold precipitation and should be sheltered from the elements. Often, hybrids of Bronze Turkey are sold as backyard pets.
Bronze Turkeys originated in North America. They were first domesticated by the Aztec people, as early as 500 years ago. Although both types of Bronze Turkey have become relatively rare in North America, the Broad-breasted is more common. However, these birds are more difficult to breed than the wild type; because they cannot mate due to the size of their breasts; artificial insemination is required. Bronze Turkeys were the chief turkey produced in the United States until around 1960.