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Turkeys have gotten massive since 1960 and it’s completely our fault

In 1929 an average turkey weighed 13.2 pounds. By 2017, it was 31.1 pounds and all because of artificial selection and genetic modification.

Turkeys have become of the most popular and cherished meats in the U.S, however, our desire to eat this white and tender meat has led not only to massive growth in their sizes, but also health problems and genetic changes. 

The birds we eat today are far from those our ancestors ate. Their sizes have doubled mainly because of genetic changes that we humans have made in order to have larger and meaty turkeys. 

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Just for you to get a picture. In 1929 an average turkey weighed 13.2 pounds. By 2017, it was 31.1 pounds!

This growth, mainly caused by the selective breeding farmers made and artificial selection of those birds with heavier breasts has caused them no lose their ability to fly due to their weights, as well as leg problems, sometimes being unable to stand. 

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Humans have changed their genetics

Their growth in size has a lot t do with genetics. A group of researchers studied how a pool of turkeys from a 1966 strain grew compared to one from 2003. Both groups were fed with the same diet and by the end of the study, the 2003 females grew to 33 pounds. Their 1966 cousins got to only 16.3 pounds.

This means that the artificial selection farmers make to get fuller turkeys have had its toll over their genetics modified to make them grow bigger than ancient ones. 

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This problem is not just a turkey-related one. It happens with most of consumption animals. According to The Atlantic, chickens, and cows have gone through a similar process. 

For example, cows went from producing 5,000 pounds of milk to producing over 20,000 pounds. Chickens, suffer the same problems as turkeys: they get bigger and have lost their ability to even stand on their feet. 

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What can we do

The easiest action we as consumers can do is lower our turkey consumption and ask for industries to stop the excessive farming on consumption animals. 

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