Illustration for article titled Turkeys Are Twice As Big Today As They Were 80 Years Ago

Chickens aren't the only birds out there getting a whole lot bigger. In just 80 years, turkeys have gone from just over 13 lbs. to around 30 lbs. So what's behind the jump in size?


It's because that's how we like to eat them, says Mother Jones. And that extra weight comes with some other changes, too:

Turkey farmers began to selectively breed birds for both size and speed of growth—especially in the breast, the most popular cut among American diners. The birds grew so fast that their frames could not support their weight, and as a result, many turkeys were bowlegged and could no longer stand upright. The male turkeys, or toms, got so big—as heavy as 50 pounds—that they could no longer manage to transfer semen to hens. Today, reproduction happens almost exclusively through artificial insemination.


Interestingly, the NASS notes that even while turkeys themselves keep packing on the pounds, our turkey consumption has remained relatively flat, resulting in a stable number of pounds of turkey consumed, but less total turkeys.

Image: Riki7.

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