The turkey was domesticated in present day’s Mexico more than 2000 years ago. The species left America in the late 15th century with travellers returning to Europe from the New World. Since then, the breeding and production of turkeys in the Old Continent has been developing dynamically and is a model to follow. Rearing takes place under very strict environmental conditions, with particular regard to the quality of litter and the thermal conditions, to which the birds are particularly sensitive.
Turkeys are divided not only by breed, but also by commercial types. Bird types include: light, medium, medium-heavy and heavy. The light type is represented by Broad Breasted White and Beltsville Small White. Fertile females weigh about 5 kg and the males about 8-12 kg. For slaughter animals, the growth time is 12 weeks, during which the birds reach a weight of 3.2-3.7 kg.
The medium type is represented by Broad Breasted White and Bronze turkeys. Slaughter takes place for female turkeys at the age of 12-18 weeks and for male turkeys from 16-24 weeks.
Heavy and medium-heavy-type breeds are more commonly used. Broad Breasted White, Broad Breasted Bronze and certain other Bronze lines represent almost 100% of production in some regions of the EU. In the case of medium-heavy types, female turkeys reach slaughter maturity (9-10 kg) at 15-16 weeks and male turkeys at 18-22 weeks (15-18 kg). Heavy-type male turkeys at 18 weeks of age should weigh about 18 kg, while female turkeys at 16 weeks of age should weigh about 14 kg. The protein content of turkey meat is high – up to 193 g of total protein per 1 kg in edible parts of turkey. It is also low-calorie meat among all species of poultry. As a result, it is particularly popular with athletes, people on reduction-based diets, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and the elderly. The pH of the meat varies between 5.8 and 6.3 depending on the piece examined. Thoracic and femoral muscles – two popular pieces, despite the same level of palatability and similar level of juiciness, differ significantly in terms of fat, protein and colour.