Lilac turkeys are one of the blue color variants of turkeys, caused by interactions of several color genes. Lilac turkeys have a solid light blue colored body, a light blue or tan tail, and slate colored banding near the end of the tail feathers. They may show hints of reddish color. This variety dates back at least to the 1930s when scientific papers described Lilac and Lavender turkeys.
There has been a great deal of confusion about distinctions among the blue color variants, and ALBC has adopted the guidelines defined by the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities in its 2000 Heritage Turkey Census Report. Lavender has been a synonym for several of the blue color variants, and ALBC uses it as a synonym with Lilac (blue color on a red background), but others use it as a synonym with Self Blue (blue color on a black background). ALBC is currently researching the breeding practices of those raising Lilac, Slate, and Self Blue turkeys to learn whether these are being maintained as separate varieties or bloodlines, or whether there is genetic flow between these varieties.
Although not recognized as standard turkey varieties by the American Poultry Association (APA), Lilac and Lavender are attractive options for the backyard or homestead. The mature weight and rate of growth for Lilac/Lavender turkeys should be similar to Slate turkeys. Most bloodlines, however, have not been selected for production attributes including weight gain, and many birds may be smaller or slower growing than varieties more commonly grown for production. Careful selection for good health, genetic diversity, and production attributes can bring these varieties into the mainstream.
There is no breed standard for the Lilac/Lavender turkey, and they are less well documented and more variable in type and color than standard varieties. This makes it more challenging to breed consistently, and the APA standards for Turkeys serve as a good guideline to quality conformation. The production potential of the Lilac turkey is not known.