How Did Turkeys Double in Size?

No, they didn't just get hungry
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2014 10:15 AM CST
How Did Turkeys Double in Size?
A customer looks at a Foster Farms turkey for sale at Costco Wholesale in Mountain View, Calif., in preparation for Thanksgiving.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

In the 1930s, the average Thanksgiving turkey weighed 13.2 pounds. Today, the average bird weighs in at more than twice that amount: a whopping 29.8 pounds. No, they didn't just get hungry. As Mother Jones reports, American poultry farms began breeding the birds for size and speed of growth in the 1950s. As their breasts grew at a ridiculous rate, the turkeys became bowlegged and couldn't stand upright. In fact, male birds grew so big they could no longer transfer semen to their female counterparts, so producers took on artificial insemination. What's more, infections soon arose as operations moved indoors and turkeys were stuffed into close quarters.

Producers added antibiotics to the mix to prevent sores on the birds' feet and breasts and began "debeaking" birds to avoid cannibalism, another problem that arose in such small spaces. If you care to avoid factory birds, turkeys are available from humane sources certified through animal welfare programs. Or you could be like supermodel Chrissy Teigen and ditch the bird altogether. "On its own, turkey is the worst of the birds by far and one of the worst meats in general," she rants on Twitter, per Gawker. She continues, "If u said 'eat this one bite of human and u can eat any other meat the rest of your life' or 'Chrissy u eat turkey forever' I'd eat human." That's one Thanksgiving dinner we'd rather avoid. (Find out how turkey made our Thanksgiving menu.)

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