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Blue Slate Turkey Profile

Other name(s):  Slate Turkey; Lavender Turkey

Scientific name:  Meleagris gallopavo 

Country / Place of origin:  North America 

History:  The blue slate turkey is a rare, heritage turkey; turkeys were first domesticated in Mexico over 2000 years ago, and the blue slate turkey was first mentioned in literature in the 1800s. In 1874 they were recognized as a standard breed by the American Poultry Association. Even though these colorful birds have been around quite awhile, they are considered to be quite rare. In fact, these heritage turkeys are on the watch list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, meaning they are globally endangered. 

Current Uses:   Named for the striking blue slate color of their plumage , blue slate turkeys are often kept as pets and entered into poultry exhibitions. They are also raised for their meat. 

Appearance:   Blue slate turkeys actually come in three color phases: blue with black specks on the feathers, solid black, and solid bluish gray. Females tend to be lighter than males. They have red to bluish-white wattles, heads, and throats, and they have horn-colored beaks, brown eyes, and black beards. Blue slate turkeys are medium-sized turkeys. 

Average weight:  18 – 27 pounds 

Lifespan:  5 – 9 years 

Grooming:  Blue slate turkeys don’t require grooming; however, owners should look over them to ensure there are no changes in health or bug infestations. 

Diet:  Feeding blue slate turkeys is easy because assuming they are given room to roam outside, they’ll be foraging for vegetation and insects. Owners need only supplement this scavenging with turkey feed. In addition to turkey feed that can be purchased online or in local feed stores, blue slate turkeys can be fed fruits and vegetables. Feeding and drinking areas should be kept clean to avoid illness. 

Housing:  Coops can be built at home or purchased premade, and they should be sturdy enough to keep the predators and the elements out while providing blue slates with room to move around and good ventilation. Turkeys should also be provided with adequate fenced in, outdoor space to get exercise and forage for food. Coops and outdoor space should be cleaned frequently to keep sickness at bay.    

Health issues:  If they are fed properly, provided clean housing, and purchased from reputable breeders who screen their birds for diseases, blue slates tend to be quite healthy. However, when bred for a specific coloration that comes from selecting recessive traits, health issues such as cataracts and blindness are more common. Turkey's are also susceptible to a disease called 'blackhead'. This parasite is carried in certain earthworms and snails which may be ingested by the bird. Bug infections left unchecked also can cause blue slates to become sick. 

Behavior / Temperament / Activity level:  Blue slates, like all turkeys, are generally easy to tame but should always be handled with care. They will spend a majority of their time searching for food in the yard when they are given time to roam.  

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