Turkeys Are Getting Much, Much Bigger

I learned a bit about turkeys this week, in a story by Joann Craven in the WSJ that explains why Americans continue to be bigger in stature than every other nationality. We eat a lot of turkey. There are four kinds of turkeys, all based on size. And size has been an upward spiral, now it’s 30 pounds and it used to be 23 lbs in 1996.  The average turkey in the 1960s when I grew up was just 16 lbs, the birds were never nearly as big as today’s.

Another startling statistic is that the average man used to weigh about 165 lbs in the 1960s, today the average weight is 195. No wonder airplane seats keep getting bigger.

The turkeys have been getting bigger and bigger, and now they no longer are confined in closed in pens, but are loose with all the other turkeys. Though there will be fewer turkeys raised in 2015 than in years past, because of the weight gain, there will be more turkey meat on the tables.

The turkeys are being bred to lean to the faster growing, heaviest birds, so you’ll regularly see these big breasted heavy birds, up to 42 pounds. The Toms are the breeder birds, who fertilize the hens, so they are important. But their meat is used not for a roast turkey but for parts.  It’s the two smaller categories of birds, the breeder hen and the hen, that most people eat on Thanksgiving tables.