Turkey, let me count thy (thigh?) ways

INDIANA U. (US) — The value of U.S. turkey production in 2009: $3.6 billion. The average cost for a traditional Thanksgiving feast for 10 people this year: $43.47. Taking a moment to savor the turkey: priceless.

Researchers at the Indiana University have put together data on the feathered superstar of Thanksgiving Day. Here are the numbers:

The farm
This year 242 million turkeys are expected to be raised in the United States. That’s down 2 percent from the number raised in 2009. Turkey production in 2009 weighed 7.1 billion pounds.

Seventy-five percent of all turkey production comes from six states. The top six turkey producing states are: Minnesota (47 million), followed by North Carolina (31.0 million), Arkansas (28.0 million), Missouri (17.5 million), Indiana (16.0 million), and Virginia (15.5 million).

The bird
Average market weight of a female hen that is purchased at the store for Thanksgiving is 15.3 pounds. The male turkey, a tom, typically weigh 33 pounds at market and is used for cutlets, tenderloins, turkey sausage, turkey franks, and turkey deli meats.

The feast
Eighty-eight percent of all Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Roughly 736 million pounds of turkey was consumed in the U.S. during Thanksgiving in 2009.

Turkeys sold to grocery stores and other retail outlets account for 41.1 percent of all the birds produced. Turkey also is sold as a commodity (27.9 percent), to food service outlets (17.7 percent), and exported (6.4 percent).

The odd truth
Only tom turkeys (male) gobble. Hen turkeys (female) make clicking noises. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. At maturity, turkeys have 3,500 feathers.

More news from Indiana University: http://newsinfo.iu.edu