Homegrown Turkey: Midget White Breed Is Delightful And Delicious

| 12/2/2010 12:51:00 PM

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.A little more than a year ago, we obtained a few purebred Midget White turkey poults for a homegrown turkey project that came to fruition last Thanksgiving Day. We sourced the Midget White turkey poults for our homegrown turkey project from the Sand Hill Preservation Center in Calamus, Iowa and wound up with two adult toms and one hen smack in the middle of winter. Undeterred by the cold, the Midget White hen started to lay eggs in February of 2010 and we collected a batch to incubate and let her set the rest. The upshot of the entire homegrown turkey project is that we wound up with a few extra toms around Thanksgiving – we traded one to a friend for his loner Midget White hen and we processed the other for our own Thanksgiving table. About a month before Thanksgiving, the hens began laying again – our first batch of poults is nearly finished hatching.

Midget White Turkey tom. 

For the most recent Midget White incubation experiment, we collected eggs daily from the hens until we had a clutch of 7 and placed them in our Brinsea Octagon incubator. A couple of days later, I noticed a few more eggs in the nest box and tossed them into the incubator for 12 eggs total. Like clockwork, five of the first seven eggs hatched as expected, 28 days after setting them. Another egg had pipped but the chick died before breaking free. And since then, we’ve hatched another three chicks (one died in the brooder) with two more eggs pipped this morning! Considering that I wasn’t diligent with managing the incubator’s humidity levels, the chance that we will wind up with 9 live poults out of 12 eggs is pretty exciting. It’s a bit of a relief actually because we should now have plenty of breeding stock to carry us beyond the next few years. And with a little luck, we will be able to harvest several turkeys for the table in 2011.

Midget White Turkey Poults 

The Midget White turkey is an American Livestock Breeds Association (ALBC) listed heritage breed that was developed in the 1960s and 1970s using a line of commercialBroad Breasted White turkeys crossed with Royal Palms. Several generations later (with careful selection of small birds with good breast meat characteristics), the Midget White was born. The toms dressed out around 13 pounds and the hens around 8 pounds – just perfect for a family of two or four with plenty of leftovers to share.

Midget White Turkey Eggs in Brinsea Octagon Incubator 

Paula Griffin
4/27/2013 4:12:12 PM

All my MW hens have have a black beard. I think it is trait of the broad breasted white genes.

Roberta Anderson VanDyke
12/16/2012 5:40:19 AM

Good Evening! I found you from googling midget whites...I am soooo confused with my midget white turkeys and am looking for advice!! About 4 years ago, the feed store stuck a baby midget white in with the chicks I got and the rest is history! Clara has become a pet and will die of old age around here. She is so friendly, loves to ride on the four wheeler with me to check fences and her favorite person is my dad. When he comes to visit, he just whistles and she comes a running and hollering! She has swiped chicken eggs and raised the chicks as her own for the past 3 summers. So I decided I would get 4 day old midget whites from the feed store and see if she would take them. She sure enough did...she went chick crazy just hearing them churping in the box! Within seconds, she had them all under her and they were HERS! One chick was a very obviously a tom by mid summer, he was gobbling and was developing into quite a fellow. Then the neighbors dog paid a visit. So I kept Clara and took the other 3 up the road to a neighbor who knows alot about all livestock and loves birds...hopeful that they would be safer up at his place. Clara and "Emma" both get along fairly well and both have "fluffed" up like a tom. I KNOW Clara is a female because she has been laying us eggs before we got any other turkeys. I was at the neighbors yesterday and he mentioned that one of the hens had a black type beard just now appearing on the chest. We made plans that after the Denver Stock Show (his Grand-daughter is going to enter them) he would bring the tom back and we would see if he and Clara would "get along!" This morning when I went out, I sat down since I have been traveling for work for the last two weeks, and was going to visit with Clara...she likes to sit in your lap and be pet. Took a good look at "Emma" and low and behold, she has black course hair (not really like a feather as it is quite course) coming out of her chest too! I am so confused because Emma does not have a snoud like Winston (the tom the dog got) did...his hung over the side at a very early age. Her head is red instead of blue. She hasn't ever gobbled that I have heard. In your experience, can a hen have the black beard thing-a-ma-gig on their chest? Or is Emma just a late maturing Emmet? Thanks for any advice you can share with me! Roberta Van Dyke Fort Collins, CO

12/30/2010 8:45:36 PM

Hi Hank! I found some eggs! I'll be getting 8 Bourbon Red eggs and 8 Standard Bronze eggs. I'll try hatching some of our chicken eggs first as a trial run. I'll keep you posted! Happy New Year!

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters