Other name(s): Ronquières Turkey; Yellow-shouldered Ronquière Turkey
Scientific name: Meleagris gallopavo
Country / Place of origin: Belgium
History: The Sweetgrass Turkey is a tri-colored bird which has a heavily marked royal palm pattern with chestnut red. In Belgium, this color pattern is believed to have existed since the 16th century, and is known as the Yellow-shouldered Ronquière Turkey.
Current Uses: Ornamental
Average weight: 15 - 30 lbs.
Lifespan: 5 - 10 years
Diet: Turkeys naturally eat any insect they can find and catch and most any plant within their reach. This makes providing them with a healthy diet easy. In addition to their free range foods they should be given a commercial turkey feed appropriate to for their age. When feeding, each turkey will need about 4 feet of space to prevent squabbling over food. You can do this by giving one bowl of food for each turkey or scattering the food on dry ground over a wide area. Some feed in their coop each night will keep them coming back to roost.
Housing: Housing a pet turkey takes some preparation and planning. If you take into consideration easy of cleaning, ease of access, and turkey comfort then you will be housing some happy turkey that require simple day to day care. If at all possible the best environment would be a safe coop to sleep in at night and allowing your turkey outside during the day. Turkeys are large birds with frequent large droppings; they will easily decimate their yard space and cover it in droppings. The turkeys will need to be rotated to different yards or pastures on a regular basis. For smaller yards this means fencing off sections of the yard and placing the coop in middle of the yards with turkey doors on each side of the coop. The coop should provide protection from the rain, wind, sun, and predators but still have good air flow. Coops will need daily cleaning to remove feces and monthly disinfection to prevent health problems. Small yards will also need daily raking to remove the feces. Keep in mind that free range unfenced turkeys do travel far but will return each night to their coop with training.
Health issues: The difficulty in breeding the recessive trait includes the possibility of breeding turkeys that will develop cataracts and eventually blindness. Other causes of illness are often caused by poor nutrition which can be prevented with a healthy diet. Your avian veterinarian will help you understand and care for your turkey’s health needs.
Behavior / Temperament / Activity level: Little is written about the personality of this rare variety.