Rise&Shine Urban Farm

  (White Pigeon, Michigan)
Pixie White, a Turkey for the Small Acreage Farmer
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How a Pixie White Is Created

The first operational phase of the Pixie White breeding program is based upon the following Mendel principles that:  1) each parent contributes one half of the genetic material to the progeny; 2) this genetic material affects the appearance of the progeny; 3) some undesirable genes are dominate over desirable, and when the dominate and recessive genes are in the same parent, only the dominant will show; 4) if each parent contributes a recessive desirable gene trait to a given offspring, then these turkeys  are purebred  for the recessive trait; and,  5) each parent can only contribute that recessive gene to the next generation.  But if the next generation receives an undesirable dominate trait from the other parent, the recessive gene is “hidden” but can skip a generation and be recovered. 

The Pixie White has two foundation toms.  One tom (King) is as close as I could get to the purebred genetics of the Midget Whites dispersed to avian fanciers in 2005; while the other, (Tut) is a small white tom of excellent breast fleshing but unknown origin. (As it turns out, Tut has become the backbone of my flock, producing hens/toms exhibiting exceptional breast quality at 35 weeks, while King is relied upon to keep sufficient bone structure, vigor, and hen broodiness)  However, he also is the "wildcard" in my breeding program, not knowing his origins.  The seven small white hens were likewise of unknown origin. Thru the use of lights, separation pens, incubation, trap nesting, and heated facilities, I began aggressively raising two separate lines of breeding stock a year.   These crossbreds were then subjected to a selection pressure that bases the next generation breeding bird on genetic traits of:  small size, good breast fleshing, vigor, structural bone balance, and calm-friendly temperament; while,  retaining the attributes and cultural significance of a heritage turkey suitable to a range-based small acreage production system.  In June of each year, I permit each breeding hen to raise her own clutch so as to assess not only broodiness but maternal skills. 

My focus is to identify PURE dominant genes of a tom and hen by working within the frame work of Mendel’s formulas to determine which turkeys are homozygous for the most number of identified traits.  By November of each year, toms and hens are sold either as seed breeders to like minded individuals, or butchered.  I cull my flock down to the next years breeding turkeys with the hope that I retain stock that cannot give their offspring anything but the desired gene for that trait, because that is all they have. Working on the premise that most of the desired traits are associated with the X sex chromosome, my yearly selection pressure focus is on the next generation’s breeding hens and is based upon the number of desirable traits exhibited by the hen so as to fix similar genes within my flock.  Finally, I am able to pair these hens to toms from outstanding mother hens; the result of which in 2010, was an increase in egg production and yield of edible hen breast meat.  

My hope is that as I continue to identify desirable traits that I believe to be beneficial but recessive in nature and work towards fixing this recessive trait by planning mating where both parents possess the recessive gene through the X sex chromosome, via record keeping, I will be able to select breeding pairs that demonstrate an ability to produce progeny that throw the highest number of the desired traits.  

 

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