This Is Your Annual Reminder That Turkeys Are Getting Exponentially Fatter

Staff Writer
The average Thanksgiving turkey weighs 81 percent more than its holiday bird counterparts did 50 years ago
Thanksgiving is coming, the turkey’s getting very fat. Please stop putting hormones in the turkey, STAT.

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Thanksgiving is coming, the turkey’s getting very fat. Please stop putting hormones in the turkey, STAT.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and even though you might be looking forward to that big, juicy bird roasting in the oven, it’s important to remember that turkeys used to be a whole lot skinnier.

According to data collected by the Wall Street Journal, the average turkey in 1960 weighed about 16.83 pounds. Nowadays, most families are buying a 30-pound turkey for Thanksgiving: That’s an 80 percent size increase in just 55 years.

To put that in perspective, according to the CDC, that average man weighs 18 percent more than he did 55 years ago. So how did we get to this feathery obesity epidemic of epic proportions? Selective breeding and lots of growth hormones, to the point that the largest breed of turkey out there, the breeding tom, weighing in at 50 to 70 pounds, cannot reproduce naturally and must continue the line of fat birds via artificial insemination. Most Thanksgiving turkeys are what the industry calls heavy or young hens, which weigh up to 44 pounds.

According to reports from animal rights organizations like PETA, oversized turkeys can have serious mobility problems, which can make them  unable to fly, or in many of the hens’ cases, lay eggs.

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