The Ridley Bronze Turkey
This Canadian breed of turkey was developed in Saltcoats, Saskatchewan during the late 1940’s. Although it bears the name of ‘Ridley’, the man who was the originator of the breed was actually J.H. Richardson.
Richardson’s goal was to produce a turkey for meat production which was large, could forage well for food, was calm and friendly, could withstand the harsh Canadian climate and reproduce naturally.
“He [Richardson] travelled all over Canada and the US, getting stock upon which he based his breeding program. He eventually created his ideal, and once that happened, never again added in any new stock.
(Ridley Bronze, Canada’s Heritage Turkey, ridleybronzeturkey.wordpress.com)
The Ridley Bronze was the result.
An ideal bird for small farms, Ridley Bronze Turkey hens weigh about seven kilograms, male turkeys as much as thirteen kilograms or more.
The Ridley family – from whom the Ridley Bronze Turkey got its name – farmed the birds from the 1950’s to 1980’s. It was George Ridley who provided breeding stock to the University of Saskatchewan for their Ridley Breeding and study programme.
The flock was maintained until 2008 when budgetary constraints forced the University of Saskatchewan to disperse it
“…at which point the turkeys were sent to various private flocks located right across Canada. Sadly, this dispersal did not go well, with the majority of birds being lost to a variety of causes (disease, predation, loss of interest) within a few short years. Fortunately in the years preceding their mass flock dispersal, the University had sold birds to other private owners and so by 2009 or so, these small flocks owned by private breeders, were all that remained in Canada.” (ibid.)
Rare Breeds Canada lists the status of the Ridley Bronze Turkey as critical. Canada’s only variety of domestic turkey is in danger of extinction. According to the most recent survey conducted in 2015, only 250 breeding females remain.
Sources: The Heritage Livestock Club of Eastern Ontario: “Canada’s Own Turkey Breed Still on the Critical List”; Rare Breeds Canada; ridleybronzeturkey.wordpress.com