Let's talk turkey

by KelsiDayle on Nov. 21st, 2011


The University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences published a summary of turkey-related research just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Yum!: Destined for a Thanksgiving plate near you
Yum!: Destined for a Thanksgiving plate near youCourtesy nick macneill

For those of you who have better things to do today (because the work's still gotta get done despite the short week) or short attention spans (because the No Homework Zone of Thanksgiving vacation is almost here), I've included some of my own highlights from the article below. You're welcome.

  • At around 49 million turkeys, Minnesota leads the nation in turkey production.
  • Modern commercially grown turkeys have to be artificially inseminated (human-assisted reproduction) due to breeding for other traits like big, meaty breasts.
  • Turkey reproductive cycles are affected by light. For maximum egg production, hens need 14 hours of daylight.
  • "Broodiness" is a legit condition that occurs among hens that signals the end of egg production for a season.
  • U of M researcher, El Halawani and his colleagues discovered that broodiness is caused by a specific brain chemical and is preventable through vaccination. The vaccine is patented, but not yet commercially adopted.
  • About 70% of the cost of raising a turkey goes to feed.
  • U of M researcher, Sally Noll researches the ability of ethanol byproduct DDGS to economically supplement a turkey's diet.
  • Despite high industry demand, poultry science students are in low supply.
  • Oh, and one more (for your Thanksgiving day Trivial Pursuit game):

    "The costume that 'Big Bird' wears on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers."

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Michael's picture
Michael says:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently posted two informative videos that could be used as fodder for Thanksgiving Dinner conversation. The first video debunks the belief that tryptophan makes people sleepy after a Thanksgiving dinner. The second focuses on the science of pop-up turkey timers. Both videos feature Diane Bunce, professor of chemistry at The Catholic University of America and recipient of the ACS Helen Free Award for Public Outreach.

posted on Tue, 11/22/2011 - 11:00am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

You can find more info on turkeys on our Object of the Month page.

posted on Tue, 11/29/2011 - 2:51pm
Hollie's picture
Hollie says:

i wanna a pet turkey so bad. Lovely creatures.

posted on Wed, 11/30/2011 - 10:59am

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