The Bourbon Red turkey is named for Bourbon County in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region where it originated in the late 1800’s. It was developed by J. F. Barbee from crosses between Buff, Bronze, and White Holland turkeys though the initial steps actually took place in Pennsylvania, where Buff turkeys of darker red hues – called Tuscarora or Tuscawara – were bred and then taken west with settlers bound for Ohio and Kentucky. These dark Buff turkeys would be the primary foundation for the new variety.
After some years of selection, Mr. Barbee was able to produce consistently good-sized dark red turkeys with white wing and main tail feathers. He christened these “Bourbon Butternuts.” For some reason, perhaps because the name did not appeal to the public, the birds did not attract attention. Barbee rechristened them “Bourbon Reds,” Bourbon for his home county and red for the rich, chestnut color of the plumage. The name change seemed to work, and better sales were reported.
First being recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1909.
Currently the varieties standardized are as follows: Only One
Weight: Old Tom: 33 lbs. Hen: 18 lbs.
Young Tom: 23 lbs. Young Hen: 14 lbs.
Egg Color: Cream/Tan with Speckles
Egg Size: Extra Large
Egg Production: Fair
APA - Recognized: Yes
Show Class: Turkeys
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
- Lao Tzu