Sustainable Production Systems for Range-Reared Standard Turkeys

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $109,444.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Marjorie Bender
American Livestock Breeds Conservacy

Annual Reports


  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: housing, free-range, feed rations
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns
  • Pest Management: disease vectors, genetic resistance
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, urban/rural integration


    Accurate information on range production of naturally-mating Standard varieties of turkeys (a.k.a. Heritage Turkeys) is urgently needed. The market for Heritage Turkeys is growing rapidly and many producers are adding them to their farming enterprises. Conclusive evidence that Heritage Turkeys have more robust immune systems, better survivability, and superior overall performance in range-based systems than commercial strains have also fueled the interest. (SSARE R & E Grant (LS02-134) to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy).

    Information on range production of Standard turkeys is largely out-of-print. A diverse collaboration proposes to train agricultural professionals about range production of standard turkeys. Two regional workshops will be held on farms. A training manual, consisting of a series of topic-based pamphlets will be published which will integrate traditional information on production with contemporary information on diseases, processing and marketing. Participants’ outreach efforts will be supported with materials and personnel.

    Project objectives:

    1. Ag professionals will become familiar with range production of standard turkeys. Participants will…

    a. Be able to define the terms “naturally-mating”, “heritage” and “standard”;
    b. Understand the recent research on standard turkeys which validates their conservation as commercially viable resources;
    c. Understand the value of range production based on market trends and consumer preferences;
    d. Be able to identify and name the standard varieties of turkeys;
    e. Be able to outline the steps of range production from ordering poults through brooding, from pasturing and feeding through processing;
    f. Be able to describe market niches, distribution options, and related regulations;
    g. Be able to assist producers in developing a marketing strategy for this enterprise;
    h. Be able to help farmers develop enterprise budgets and provide the economics of production based on regional and state specific data; and
    i. Understand the regional infrastructure needed to successfully bring turkeys to the marketplace.

    2. Ag professionals will be able to effectively disseminate information about range production of standard turkeys to their constituencies.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.