Bourbon Red

bourbon red stag

Photo: Ian Waterman

Origin: North America

Classification: Heavy

The Bourbon Red turkey is named after Bourbon County in Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region, where it originated in the late 1800s. It was admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1909.

Colour: male

Head: red, changeable to bluish white.

Beak: light horn at tip, darker at base.

Eyes: dark brown.

Throat-wattle: Red, changeable to bluish white.

Neck: a rich dark, chestnut mahogany

Back: rich, dark, chestnut mahogany with each feather from point of shoulders to base of main tail having a very narrow edging of black.

Tail: main tail: pure white, with an indistinct bar of soft red crossing each main tail feather near the tip. Coverts: deep brownish red.

Wings: fronts, bows and coverts: rich dark, chestnut mahogany; each feather having a very narrow edging of black. Primaries and secondaries: pure white.

Breast: rich, dark, chestnut mahogany, feathers having a very narrow edging of lustrous black.

Body and Fluff: body: deep, brownish red; each feather edged with a very fine line of black. Fluff: a lighter shade of brownish red.

Legs and Feet: lower thighs: dark, chestnut mahogany.

Shanks and Toes – Reddish pink in adults; deep reddish horn in young.

Undercolour of all sections: Red, shading to a light salmon at base.


Similar to that of the male, except there is no black edging in any section. On the breast, each feather has a narrow thread-like edging of white.

Standard Weights

Mature stag 14.9kgs (33lbs)

Young stag 10.4kgs (23lbs)

Mature hen 8.1kgs (18lbs)

Young hen 6.3kgs (14lbs)


More than one third any colour other than white showing in either primaries, secondaries, or main tail feathers. Entire absence of black edging in plumage of stag on breast, wing fronts and saddle. Entire absence of white edging on feathers in upper breast and neck sections of hen.

Day-old poults

Head is a light reddish brown with a darker brown mark on the back of the head. The neck and back is a light yellowish brown with three dark brown stripes running from the shoulders, with the middle stripe being the broadest of the three. The wings go from dark brown at the front through to cream at the tips. Throat, breast and thighs are a pale yellowish white. As feathering appears the growing poult takes on a pale beige colouring with white markings, these disappear as the adult feathers emerge.