Modern turkeys twice the size of turkeys from 80 years ago

A little more interesting stuff, this about domestic turkeys. Happy Thanksgiving!

Iowa Environmental Focus

A wild turkey roams a field in California (Don McCullough/Flickr) A wild turkey roams a field in California (Don McCullough/Flickr)

Nick Fetty| November 27, 2014

Turkey has been a staple of Thanksgiving dinners for generations but the bird’s evolution over the past century or so has been particularly interesting.

Turkeys raised and served these days are more than twice as large as they were in the 1930s. Many of the reasons for the increase in the size of these fowls is directly related to the turkey farming industry. Beginning in the 1950s turkey farmers began selectively breeding birds for both size and speed of growth to accommodate for increased demand of turkey meat. With some male turkeys weighing as much as 50 pounds they became unable to impregnate their female mates and today nearly all turkeys are bred through artificial insemination.

There is debate much about whether these selectively-bred turkeys are considered genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While most scientists would not classify turkeys as…

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2 thoughts on “Modern turkeys twice the size of turkeys from 80 years ago

  1. Steve Morris

    In Britain we eat turkeys for Christmas, and in our house we always eat the old-fashioned type that are smaller and more expensive. They are free range and taste better too!
    However, I understand that the modern intensively-reared turkeys generate less CO2 per pound of meat. Choices aren’t always easy.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      There are trade-offs to everything. Some are clear and some are not. I haven’t had free-range turkey, to my knowledge, and never had wild turkey. I’d certainly try it.

      Thanks for taking a look. I thought this was an interesting follow-up to the wild turkey post.

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