Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Turkey history

Scientists have determined, through ancient DNA testing, that turkeys were domesticated at least twice, once in Mexico and separately in the American Southwest, both about 2,000 years ago, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/science/09obgobble.html?emc=eta1.

Turkeys were important to Central American native cultures. Sabine Eiche reports in her book Presenting the Turkey that Peter Martyr, an early 16th century Italian historian, recorded that thousands were raised and consumed by the court of Emperor Montezuma. Prescott's 1844 History of the Conquest of Mexico relies on Montezuma's written household accounts showing that 8,000 turkeys were eaten in one year. Hundreds were also fed to the carnivores and raptors in Montezuma's menagerie.
Wild turkeys have developed subspecies as they adapt to conditions across North America, http://www.nwtf.org/NAWTMP/about_wild_turkeys.html. All turkeys remain the same species, however, and interbreed freely. In the past, farmers welcomed wild turkey toms into their domestic flocks for a year or two, to invigorate the flock with different breeding.

They also get free and become feral. These turkeys showed up in Christina Tyzzer's yard in Indiana two years ago. She was so enchanted by them, she has gone into the turkey business!






4 comments:

Sara said...

So beautiful! I enjoy the wild turkeys we've got around here, but to see those beauties wander out of the woods would be divine.

Very interesting stuff.

PoultryBookstore said...

They are inspiring. Backyard Poultry magazine asked me to write about Ocellated Turkeys for an upcoming issue, a Central American wild breed. I look forward to learning more about them.

Tina said...

What a surprise to go to your blog to begin my search for a new heritage chicken breed and to find a photo of my first turkey birds! What a fun memory! And thanks to people like you who are willing to share your knowledge, my husband and I are beginning a successful retirement business, CT Coop...heritage birds are definitely the way to go! Thanks so much!

Christina Tyzzer

PoultryBookstore said...

Your story is a delightful one. Thanks for sharing it, and for continuing on the path.