Yearly, Individuals eat greater than 200 million turkeys. However how a lot have you learnt in regards to the fowl that Benjamin Franklin thought would symbolize America higher than the bald eagle?

10 Most Home Turkeys Are Artificially Inseminated


The overly large breasts on business turkeys make them unable to mate. In consequence, broad-breasted turkeys require synthetic insemination with the intention to produce fertile eggs.

Nevertheless, you possibly can’t simply hand a tom an image of a large-breasted girl hen and anticipate him to ejaculate right into a cup. Toms have to be “milked” of their semen. That is executed by a crew that normally consists of at the very least 4 handlers.

It takes about two minutes to acquire a tom’s semen, normally with not more than four strokes of the cloaca. The Nationwide Institutes of Well being recommends no multiple or two per assortment with the intention to forestall damage (to the fowl, not the handler).

The tom’s semen is collected in a small glass, after which it’s drawn out with a syringe and positioned in a glass bottle. The semen have to be used rapidly, ideally inside half-hour of extraction. It’s inserted right into a hen with a syringe or plastic straw—in essence, a turkey baster.

In the event you favor a turkey made the old school manner, and are keen to spend $150 or more, you possibly can choose as an alternative for a “Heritage” fowl. To qualify as Heritage, a turkey should mate naturally, develop slowly, and have a protracted and productive lifespan.

9 Benjamin Franklin Tried A number of Nationwide Symbols Earlier than The Turkey

In a letter to the Pennsylvania Journal written in 1775, Franklin recommended that the rattlesnake was the “emblem of magnanimity and braveness” that greatest represented “the mood and conduct of America.” However by the point the Continental Congress appointed him, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams to design the nationwide seal, Franklin had apparently modified his thoughts.

But Franklin’s proposal—a scene depicting Moses and Pharaoh—didn’t meet with the approval of Adams and Jefferson, who needed one thing extra allegorical. Ultimately, the three compromised on an outline of Lady Liberty supporting a shield representing the states. The Continental Congress rejected the design, and after a sequence of additional compromises, the bald eagle turned our nationwide image.

Benjamin Franklin was not pleased with the selection. In a letter to his daughter, written some eight years later, he stated: “Personally, I want the eagle had not been chosen because the consultant of this nation. He’s a fowl of unhealthy ethical character; he doesn’t get his dwelling truthfully . . . in reality, the turkey is compared a much more respectable bird, and withal a real unique native of America . . . He’s, apart from (although a bit of useless and foolish, it’s true, however not the more severe emblem for that) a fowl of braveness.”

8 Each Hen’s Loopy ‘Bout A Sharp-Dressed Tom

Garments might make the person, nevertheless it’s feathers that assist a tom entice a mate. Whereas hens are usually drab brown or gray, a tom’s chest boasts iridescent feathers in shades of green, copper, bronze, red, purple, and gold. Like a peacock, he additionally has a “fan” of 18 tail feathers as much as 38 centimeters (15 in) lengthy, which he shows throughout breeding season.

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The tom additionally has a “beard”—a specialised feather rising from the center of his chest. Whereas a wild turkey’s beard normally tops out at about 23 centimeters (9 in), some develop even longer. The longest one on document measured an unbelievable 46 centimeters (18 in). Some 10 to twenty % of hens have beards, too, although they’re shorter than these discovered on toms.

Just a few uncommon wild turkeys additionally boast one in every of 4 uncommon colours, referred to as “phases.” These could be smoky grey, erythritic (reddish), albino (very uncommon), or melanistic—the turkey version of a goth phase, by which his feathers are all black.

7 Wild Turkeys Can Fly


Most turkeys Individuals eat are farm-raised, “broad-breasted” varieties. These so-called “home” birds have been bred to be extra-large, in order to supply meat effectively on the lowest possible cost.

Due to their weight, home turkeys are slow and unable to fly. However wild turkeys, which weigh half as a lot and have much less breast meat, can run at speeds of 32–40 kilometers (20–25 mi) per hour, solely barely slower than the world’s fastest humans.

Wild turkeys may fly short distances at as much as 89 kilometers (55 mi) per hour. This helps them escape their pure predators, which embrace coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons, snakes, and canines. It additionally permits them to roost in trees starting at nightfall, which protects them from predators who’ve higher nighttime imaginative and prescient.

6 Turkeys Can Spot You A Mile Away

Although turkeys don’t see properly at evening, their daytime imaginative and prescient is spectacular. A turkey’s eyes are spaced far aside and are on the perimeters of its head. This provides the turkey a visual field of 270 degrees, in comparison with our personal 180. And in contrast to our eyes, that are unable to deal with issues in our peripheral imaginative and prescient, a turkey’s eyes can focus clearly all through its entire field of sight.

These eyes—together with the turkey’s means to rotate its neck all the best way round—allow a turkey to identify a predator (or hunter) from a mile or extra away. However as a result of its eyes are on the perimeters of its head, the turkey lacks 3-D imaginative and prescient. It compensates for this by bobbing its head to approximate depth notion.

Turkeys even have seven several types of photoreceptors of their eyes. This provides them glorious shade imaginative and prescient, in addition to the power to see gentle within the UVA spectrum. In consequence, turkeys see the phosphates discovered in lots of laundry detergents as a vibrant, fluorescent blue. So in case you use one in every of these detergents, you might as properly skip the camo—you aren’t fooling the turkeys one bit.

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5 Purrs, Yelps, And Whistles

Solely male turkeys make the distinctive sound we name a “gobble.” Throughout breeding season, mature toms set up their dominance with transient fights. The winner will get to breed, whereas immature males (“jakes”) and the losers are relegated to watching and serving as bodyguards.

Gobblers usually cruise in pairs, with the subordinate male helping the dominant one entice a single hen—or, extra typically, a harem. Through the wooing section, each dominant and subordinate gobblers blush brilliant red and blue in regards to the face and throat. Additionally they strut with their tails fanned and their wings dragging alongside the bottom.

Solely the dominant male gobbles. Every gobble lasts not more than a second, however it may be heard by hens up to a mile away. It helps that turkeys have glorious listening to, despite the fact that their “ears” are nothing greater than small holes of their heads behind the eyes.

Females don’t gobble however might cluck and make small chirping noises. Turkeys of each sexes additionally cackle, purr, and yelp, and younger turkeys whistle to their flock mates when misplaced.

4 Wild Turkeys Interact In Foreplay

After attracting a hen, the tom stands on her and massages her again by lifting one foot after which the opposite for roughly 10 minutes. When the hen is prepared, she lifts her tail and the tom mounts her.

Regardless of this lengthy build-up, the cloacal kiss itself is over in just a few seconds. The tom then disappears, and takes no half in nesting or elevating his offspring.

A single mating normally produces sufficient sperm to fertilize a complete clutch, and a hen can retailer sperm in her oviduct for up to four weeks. When she’s prepared, she lays a fertilized egg nearly each day till her nest accommodates between eight and 15 eggs. Then she incubates the eggs repeatedly till they hatch some 25 days later.

The younger “poults” don’t keep put for lengthy. Less than 24 hours after their beginning, they’re out of the nest on the lookout for meals.

3When It’s time For A Wild Turkey To Mate, Measurement Issues


In the event you’ve ever seen a male turkey strutting, you could have questioned about that fleshy protuberance hanging from its beak. It’s a snood, and all mature male turkeys (referred to as “toms” or “gobblers”) have one. The snood seems to serve no practical goal, apart from attracting a mate. And shock! Measurement issues. The tom with the longest snood normally will get the hens.

When a tom will get excited, his snood turns into engorged with blood and enlarges, very similar to a penis, which a turkey doesn’t have. As a substitute, each female and male turkeys have a cloaca, an outlet into which the intestinal, urinary, and genital tracts open. Throughout intercourse between wild turkeys—known as a “cloacal kiss“—the male’s semen is handed from his cloaca to the feminine’s, and from there to the hen’s oviduct.

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Different elements of the tom that flush when he’s excited embrace the caruncles, additionally known as nodules (the fleshy orange or pink bumps that droop from the tom’s neck), and the dewlap or wattle (the fleshy flap of pores and skin hooked up to the tom’s throat).

2 Some Feminine Turkeys Can Reproduce With out A Male

Feminine turkeys are able to parthenogenesis, additionally known as asexual copy. In parthenogenesis, eggs from a non-mated hen can grow without fertilization.

All turkeys born of parthenogenesis are male, they usually’re indistinguishable from males produced by pure or synthetic mating. Though turkey parthenogenesis is uncommon, the incidence could be elevated by vaccination with sure stay viruses, and by conserving hens throughout the sight and sound of close by males.

Apart from gender, poults produced by parthenogenesis are clones of their mother. Breeders due to this fact typically want parthenogenesis to protect the traits of their most fascinating females, normally those with the biggest breasts.

1 That’s One Huge Chook

The biggest turkey on document was an 39-kilogram (86 lb) fowl named Tyson, who took first place in 1989’s Heaviest Turkey competitors in London. By means of distinction, the biggest wild turkey recorded by the Nationwide Wild Turkey Federation weighed a paltry 17 kilograms (37 lbs).

Tyson was later auctioned off for charity, the place he bought for a document $6,692. Since a “dressed” turkey usually weighs 75 % of a stay one, Tyson would have weighed nearly 30 kilograms (65 lbs) after plucking, at a value of over $100 per pound.

Different notable turkey-related data embrace the quickest time to carve one—3 minutes, 19.47 seconds—and the biggest gathering of individuals dressed as turkeys—661 people in Dallas, Texas who had nothing higher to do in November 2011.

And also you thought Star Trek conventions had been bizarre.

Jackie Fuchs is a author and legal professional with a B.A. in linguistics from UCLA and a J.D. from Harvard. In a former life she performed bass (as Jackie Fox) for the ‘70s all-girl rock band, The Runaways, with Joan Jett and Lita Ford. Jackie is a former journalist and Huffington Publish blogger, with an curiosity in phrase origins and medieval historical past. You possibly can learn a few of her work at JackieFoxDotNet.


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