Turkey Trivia

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The average Thanksgiving turkey weighs about 16 pounds and is 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. The National Turkey Federation estimated that in 2011, Americans gobble up 46 million turkeys at Thanksgiving–that’s almost 3 pounds of poultry per person, according to statistics from the National Turkey Federation.

The first Thanksgiving in 1621 didn’t include mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie or cranberries. Deer, rabbit and squash were served and historians believe that lobster, seal and swan may have been served as well. While fowl was on the menu, the bird of choice was probably not turkey.

A celebration on a specific day every year didn’t occur until President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

While “gobble” is the call most people associate with turkeys, the birds have at least 28 different known sounds. Other calls, including “yelps,” “clucks,” “putts,” “cackles,” “purrs,” “hoots” and “hisses,” are used to indicate danger, advertise the caller’s sex, establish control and keep the flock together.

n 2011, more than 248 million turkeys were expected to be raised with an average live weight per bird of 28 pounds with nearly 6 billion pounds of turkey processed. By contrast, in 1970, only 105 million birds were raised with an average live weight of 17 pounds and 1.5 billion pounds processed. The turkeys produced in 2010 together weighed 7.11 billion pounds and were valued at $4.37 billion.

A turkey under sixteen weeks of age is called a fryer, while a young roaster is five to seven months old.

Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.

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