This breed of turkey was derived from European strains and the American Wild Turkey around Narragansett, Rhode Island in the 19th century with earlier bloodlines as far back as the 1600's. The Narragansett color pattern contains black, gray, tan, and white. Its pattern is similar to that of the Bronze, with steel gray or dull black replacing the coppery bronze. If you are looking for a domestic turkey that looks like the Eastern Wild, then this is the turkey for you!! They make an excellent backyard and farm turkey as they are very good with insect population control, exhibit excellent temperament, don't wander far from home, and provide excellent quality meat.
The Narragansett Turkey almost went extinct with some reports of the breed dropping to as few as just 6 breeding pair. Work by members of the Livestock Conservancy like us have moved this breed out of the immediately "critical" and "threatened" status and onto the "watched" list due to renewed interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flavor of the breed.
The Bourbon Red turkey is named for Bourbon County in Kentucky's Bluegrass region where it originated in the late 1800's. The breed was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1909, and was ambitiously selected and promoted for utility traits, including a production-type conformation with a heavy breast and richly flavored meat. The Bourbon Red is an attractive bird for either exhibition or just for the backyard. They have brownish to dark red plumage with white flight and tail feathers. They present an attractive carcass when dressed, since the light pinfeathers leave no residue of dark pigment showing the feather follicles as with the Bronze.
Like the Narragansett turkey, the Bourbon Red declined in popularity as it was unable to compete with the genetically modified broad breasted varieties sold in the grocery stores today. The Livestock Conservancy still lists the Bourbon Red's status as "threatened". It is a truely beautiful bird, and makes an excellent choice as a multi-purpose bird for the farm. They are active foragers, and would probably do well in a pasture production system, either as purebreds or when crossed with other breeds.