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Turkens: Birds of a Different Feather by Casey Love from the February/March, 2009 issue of Backyard Poultry

February 7, 2013

Turkens

Birds of a Different Feather

By Casey Love

Michigan


Turkens or Naked Necks?

      According to the APA’s American Standard of Perfection, the breed name is Naked Neck, but many of us also know them as Turkens.

      Naked Necks were developed from the desire for a smooth-skinned, dressed fowl. Their bare areas made plucking easier and quicker, as they have less than half the feathers of other comparable fowl.

      They are good layers of brown eggs and tolerate cold climates well.

      Standard weights are 8-1/2 lbs. for cocks, 6-1/2 lbs. for hens, 7-1/2 lbs. for cockerels and 5-1/2 lbs. for pullets.—Ed.

I am a member of the Rural Routers 4-H group. I raise a breed of chickens called Turkens at my Papa and Grandma’s house.




Blackie was one in a pen of three first-place winning Turkens at the 2006 fair open class. This photo was taken when she was a spring Turken.
Blackie was one in a pen of three first-place winning Turkens at the 2006 fair open class. This photo was taken when she was a spring Turken.






This is Big Red; it’s not hard to see how he got his name! He is from our first batch of Turkens. These birds grow to an impressive size. Though they are not the prettiest birds, they are awesome.
This is Big Red; it’s not hard to see how he got his name! He is from our first batch of Turkens. These birds grow to an impressive size. Though they are not the prettiest birds, they are awesome.





Big Boy was the king of our first batch of Turkens. I took him to 2006 fair and he with two lovely hens (a black one and a buff one) won first place in open class. While the necks are bare of feathers, the males, and some females, will grow a “beard” in the middle of it.
Big Boy was the king of our first batch of Turkens. I took him to 2006 fair and he with two lovely hens (a black one and a buff one) won first place in open class. While the necks are bare of feathers, the males, and some females, will grow a “beard” in the middle of it.

Turkens are an unusual breed but very great birds to handle, work with, and show. It’s again Turken time for me. My little ones arrived March 19th and 29th this year, and they are thriving very well and getting big. 

Turkens are an odd bird to look at, and many people are baffled when they see them. Though their name is deceiving they aren’t any kind of turkey, they are all chicken. The origin of the Turken is fuzzy: they have been tracked to Europe where they are called Transylvania Naked Necks. And that’s no fib; they are hatched with zero feathers on their necks and sparse on their vent (bottoms). As they grow, most of the males will grow “beards” mid neck and are quite impressive. The females can also grow these beards; I’ve had both sexes with these beards.

The photos in this article are from my 2006 first prize open class pen that consisted of a very large white, black and yellow rooster, and buff and purple/black hens. When you work with these animals they always end up with names, and these were Big Boy, Blackie, and Buffy. This pen was unique, and I feel the judges saw how beautiful these birds were and how easy they were to handle, despite their size.

Like any chicken, the males can be very territorial about their girls. It’s best to have more hens than roosters with this breed. (One attacked my grandma! She’s okay though.)

Some things about my Turkens are that they love sparkly things and adore my mom’s rings. They love to be burped at, meaning they make a noise when content and it sounds like buuurp, buuurp, buuurp. They can get sunburned, so if you decide to get some make sure they have shelter from the sun! And they aren’t bad eating either. We had nice, big roaster chickens, and lots of delicious homemade chicken soup this winter! 





This fine-looking cowboy is author Casey Love. Casey received an A grade on his pen of Black Frizzle Cochins and was awarded 5th place showmanship at the Isabella County Fair in Michigan 2006. He is a member of the Rural Routers 4-H group in Michigan.
This fine-looking cowboy is author Casey Love. Casey received an A grade on his pen of Black Frizzle Cochins and was awarded 5th place showmanship at the Isabella County Fair in Michigan 2006. He is a member of the Rural Routers 4-H group in Michigan.

I am a digital project manager with Swift Digital. I started at Swift in June 2007 and joined the Backyard Poultry Magazine team in 2012. I hold a master's degree in interactive journalism from the Un...