Beltsville Small White Turkeys – Extinct in the USA – Thriving in Canada
Developed for the household market of smaller families, specifically to compete with the Sunday capon as a luxury poultry choice, the USDA introduced the first (still naturally reproducing) commercially successful new turkey breed, designed to create a new industry for the struggling farmers of the 1930’s. Named for its birthplace, the famous Beltsville, Maryland USDA poultry research station and introduced to the market in 1941, they quickly became the premium 25% of the domestic market.
This small, busty, naturally reproducing (modern turkeys can’t breed naturally) true heritage turkey with its practical snowy white plumage looks like its descendant, the modern giant industrial BBW, but there the similarity ends. Smart and personable, hardy, heavy layers and capable foragers, they produce a delicious meaty table bird 8-16 pounds in 6-7 months. They will breed naturally and raise their young in their first adult year and can be managed for year round production without specialized reproductive technology. The BSW was declared “extinct” in the USA as a pure breed by the APA in the 1990’s, and they remain designated as “critically endangered” by Rare Breeds Canada and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
The BSW is the ideal choice for the family poultry flock, hobby farms and CSAs able to market a true gourmet product, and are an APA standard breed for exhibition. Smaller, and so gentle and friendly, much more sociable and endearing than chickens, they make enjoyable pets, and a great 4H project for the youngsters. Kids are certain to wow the judges and come home with ribbons from the county fairs with their charming, easily trained Beltsvilles, and your family will be “hooked” on these old-time turkeys!
The Standard White Chantecler, Canada’s Own Heritage Chicken
We expect the Chanty’s to return in 2024. The original White Chantecler Chicken, originally bred at the Abbey Notre Dame du Lac at Oka, PQ in the 1900’s, is Canada’s native heritage chicken breed. Brother Wilfred Chatelain developed a “Canadian” chicken, a dual purpose meat and laying bird, tolerant of bitter Canadian weather, and reputed to continue laying their large, creamy brown eggs through the long Quebec winters, when American and European breeds give up. Active, athletic foragers, they are quick and wary enough to look after themselves around the farm. Our Chantecler roosters are consistently polite and gentle with humans making them an excellent choice for the family with younger poultry keepers. On the Rare Breeds Canada and ALBC “critical” lists, and recognized by the APA in 1921, the Chantecler also sail on the Canadian “Arc of Taste”.
Our standard-bred Quebec blood-line is additionally selected for large size, meaty conformation and kindly family safe roosters, and produces successful show stock as well as excellent utility birds for homestead use or CSA grow-out. Our bloodline is represented in flocks in every province and the Yukon.
Heavy French Guinea Fowl: Garden Assistant, Comic Relief, Gourmet Dinner Guest
We hatch French-type guinea fowl to raise with our Beltsville turkeys who are so kind to the little guinea keets and seem to enjoy hanging out with them. We make keets and dressed guineas available to our customers to try, mostly because we enjoy them so much. These are the heavy French strain raised for market in Quebec and France, where they are nearly as popular as chicken.
The African guinea fowl is a flocky bird of scrub and grass land and was known to be kept in Southern Europe and North Africa since the time of Alexander the Great. This is an active and effective forager. No insect, tick or little critter is safe from a flock of guineas on patrol.
The heavy type raised through the summer are chatty with their odd calls, but much more pleasant to live with than guineas of the wilder “unimproved” type. Their steel grey lavender feathers are covered with small whites spots, and just beg for craft projects. These birds are ready for processing after 12 weeks grow out at 3-4 lbs, and have a higher meat to bone ratio and richer, gourmet flavour than chicken.