The Fate of Obama's Turkey Pardons - The Atlantic Food Channel:
A little background. Beginning with George H.W. Bush in 1989, Presidents have been sparing the lives of two White House turkeys at Thanksgiving time and sending them to various farms across Virginia. George Bush the Younger, however, bucked tradition in 2005 and sent the birds to either Disneyland or Disneyworld. There, they were crassly paraded about as holiday attractions, fed a conventional diet of cheap feed, and medically ignored. Half the birds died within a year. Writes Farm Sanctuary: "Disney's track record shows that it simply is not able to provide the level of care necessary to keep these birds healthy, happy and comfortable for years. "
Modern turkeys are not bred for longevity. To the contrary, they're genetically manipulated to fatten as quickly as possible and die.
The reason is interesting, if disturbing, and it lends a bit of insight into the bizarre nature of turkey farming. Modern turkeys are not bred for longevity. To the contrary, they're genetically manipulated to fatten as quickly as possible and die. Breeding for commercially desirable traits--mainly large breasts--has created turkeys that are so top-heavy they can hardly walk. Sex is equally out of the question, as distortions make it physically impossible for the birds to mate (all commercial turkeys are artificially inseminated). And what's been done to them externally has an internal counterpart. Heart attacks, for example, are common in young turkeys, something that never happens in the wild. Bottom line: past a certain age, it takes a lot of work to keep these biological oddities alive and well.