Association for Promotion of Belgian Poultry Breeds


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|Red Ardenner turkey |Ronquières turkey

Ronquières turkey

An ermine tom

 

A partridge tom

Origin : The Ronquières is a very ancient native turkey breed of which the first evidence goes back to the sixteenth century, only a few decades after the discovery of the turkey in America by the Spaniards. This breed owns its name to the village of Ronquières nearby Brussels where this turkey was bred on a large scale since the eighteenth century. However at that time this breed was already kept in every part of Belgium. The two World Wars almost eradicated this turkey. Only the ermine variety knew to survive in Germany by the name ‘Cröllwitzer’. It was only at the beginning of the nineties that by coincidence an authentical very small breeding stock of other Ronquières varieties was recovered in the Campine region of Belgium. Meanwhile all the original varieties of the breed have been bred back from this breeding stock without any crossings with other breeds.

Characteristics : The Ronquières is not a heavy turkey and doesn’t produce a large quantity of meat but its meat is of very high quality. The Ronquières exceeds every other turkey breed by its vitality and its fertility. The hatching results are remarkably high compared to other breeds. The hens lay very good a brood easily. They are very good sitters and excellent mothers. The poults grow up without any problems. 

Appearance : The Ronquières is a primitive light turkey of which the toms weigh 9 to 10 kilos and the hens 4 to 5 kilos. The head is remarkably bluish and has only few carunculs. The beak is bone-white with a bluish base. The shanks and toes are always white. The plumage always shows a number of breed-specific characteristics that are present in every variety (except the white). The primaries are always darker than the secondaries and show a typical ‘stippling’. The quills are always pale in color. All the other feathers tend to show ‘penciled’ markings (like the dark Brahma) and a very fine white edging follows the black edging of each feather.

Varieties : The Ronquières is the only turkey breed with more varieties, no less than five. Besides the self-white, there is the ermine which shows a fine black edging on each feather, and the yellow-shoulder which is identical to the ermine except for the brownish yellow path on the shoulders and the saddle region. The fawn has a yellow-fawn groundcolor with a very fine almost invisible black edging and the partridge has a grayish brown groundcolor with a heavily contrasting penciling. The toms of this variety are much darker than the hens. Very remarkable is that the poults of all these varieties hatch with near white down.

Several of these ancient varieties are known under another name in different countries. In Germany they have the Cröllwitzer (ermine) and Krefelder (partridge), in France the Tricoloré du Colorado (yellow-shoulder) and in the U.S the Royal Palm (ermine) and Sweetgrass (yellow-shoulder). All these varieties are quit recent and none of them already over 100 years old. All the Ronquières varieties are much older and were pictured in very old photographs and paintings. The oldest painting with a Ronquières turkey goes back to Antwerp in 1566 !

State : Rather rare. Ermine and yellow-shoulder Ronquières are quit common, the partridge and fawn are rare and the white is very rare. They are found throughout Belgium and over the past few years there have been exports to Holland, France and the U.K. Really good specimens who are only average in every possible feature are rare.

 

A pair of Yellow-shoulders

A fawn hen on the nest