Specialty poultry producer Joyce Foods Inc. has entered the heritage turkey market as part of the company's 50th anniversary commemoration, according to reports.

The birds were placed on one of the company's North Carolina farms earlier in 2012, and raised free range, said Denis Dronne, executive chef and vice president of sales. The turkeys are fed an all-vegetarian diet and are raised under humane growing and processing practices, he said. The company's goal was to have the birds ready for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

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"The black turkey is a very old breed, probably the first one to be developed from Native American stocks," said Ron Joyce, president and CEO. "Some of the first turkeys taken to Europe in the 1500s were black turkeys where they became very popular, particularly in Spain. The black turkey was admitted to the APA Standard in 1874. It is a naturally mating, slow-growing breed well suited for the outdoors. The heritage black turkey produces very flavorful and tender meat."