Watchlist Turkeys watchlist Slate Key Characteristics The Slate is occasionally used as a commercial bird in niche markets but is highly sought after as an exhibition bird. It is however considered critically rare worldwide. History The Slate turkey is named after its colouration of a solid or ashy blue over the entire body with a few black flecks occurring on some feathers. Little is know of the origin of the Slate turkeys but one theory is that is a cross between the Norfolk Black and the White Holland. Breeding true in the nineteenth century in America, during the turn and early part of the twentieth century the Slate turkey was very popular in England at the big London shows. Appearance The plumage of both sexes is similar, being ashy blue with random black flecks. The eyes are very dark brown, the beak horn coloured and the legs and toes are a deep pink in young birds but pale with age. A mature male weighs up to 13.6kgs (30 lbs) and a mature female 5.4kgs (12lbs). The head, neck and back of day-old poults are a yellowish white with a definite tinge of blue. Uses The Slate Turkey can be a good meat bird and is used in some niche markets. Did you know? Another that different genetic factors have been responsible for a dilution of Bronze and Black colour patterns. There are two different genetic mutations in this variety, one dominant and one recessive. Both produce the slate colouring but slightly different shades.