The Maltese Black-Bronze Turkey is a previously undescribed, rustic breed of turkey raised exclusively in backyard conditions. The broad-breasting trait (prevalence, P=100 percent), “bronzing” on the rump and tail (P=100 percent) and “wild type” wing markings (P=78 percent) were present. The average weight (AW) and standard error (SE) and weight range (WR) of turkeys (N=50) at 12 weeks, 20 weeks and 24 weeks of age was of 3.34 ± 0.04 kg and WR = 2.80–3.80 kg, 8.14 ± 0.09 kg and WR = 7.10–9.10 kg, 10.37 ± 0.10 kg and WR = 9.40–11.70 kg, respectively.
The AW ± SE and WR of a skinned, excised breast muscle (P. major and P. profundus combined) and of a skinned leg of turkey at 24 weeks was of 1.37±0.08 kg and WR=1.05±1.65 kg and 0.98±0.08 kg and WR=0.9-1.10 kg, respectively. There were no mortalities during the study (P=0 percent) and no birds were condemned at slaughter (P=0 percent) at 24 weeks. Although growth rates were not as fast as commercial strains raised in industrial conditions, carcass quality and conformation were good. Persons (N=2) visually assessing meat colour found only 2 percent breast muscle to be darker than that of industrially-raised turkey. However, poor intra-rater agreement and inter-rater agreement for darkness of breast muscle indicated that it was indistinguishable from the breast muscle of industrially raised birds. When only feed costs were included, the price per kg live weight was of US$ 0.99, US$ 0.74 and US$ 0.98 for 12, 20 and 24 weeks of age, respectively. Raising this breed of turkey for 20 weeks appears to be the most profitable age for marketing under small-scale semi-intensive conditions, but it is slower growing than industrial birds as the latter reach 8–16 kg at 14–20 weeks. A questionnaire based on 322 respondents identified that there was a high, but unsatisfied demand for slower growing turkeys raised in “more natural” backyard conditions (P=89 percent). The Maltese Black-Bronze Turkey had the necessary characteristics to fill this niche market.