In Ye Olde Times
Once upon a time in America, all turkeys were capable of having sex. A male turkey would enlist one of his brothers to act as his wingman, visit a flock of female turkeys, show off his tail feathers, and proceed to engage in a polyamorous relationship with the female turkeys. Cloacas would be rubbed together, eggs would get fertilized and laid, and three to four weeks later baby turkeys would start popping out.
If the pilgrims ate a turkey at the first Thanksgiving, this is how it would have been born.
The Ascent of Turkeys by Means of Unnatural Selection
As the years passed, the pilgrims turned into Americans and America turned into a society which began placing a higher and higher value on extremely large breasts. Specifically, turkey breasts.
Turkey breasts became so desirable that farmers used a long process of selective breeding to create turkeys with unnaturally enormous breasts.
In Ye Modern Times
Our modern turkeys now have such ridiculously large breasts that the male turkey can’t get his cloaca close enough to a female turkey’s cloaca to be able to reproduce. Our turkeys are no longer able to have sex. Their gigantic breasts get in the way.
Where do baby turkeys come from?
The turkey that you eat for Thanksgiving is a Broad Breasted White Turkey and it comes from a turkey breeder.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the turkey breeder takes sperm from the male turkey by “stimulating the copulatory organ to protrude by massaging the abdomen and the back over the testes.” He then follows this by quickly “pushing the tail forward with one hand and, at the same time, using the thumb and forefinger of the same hand to “milk” semen from the ducts of this organ.”
The turkey breeder then puts the sperm into the female turkey by pressing down on “the left side of the abdomen around the vent. This causes the cloaca to evert and the oviduct to protrude so that a syringe or plastic straw can be inserted into the oviduct and the appropriate amount of semen delivered.“
In this manner, eggs are fertilized, then laid, and three to four weeks later baby turkeys start popping out.
The True Frankenturkey
Although the over breeding of animals into creatures which can no longer naturally reproduce is disturbing, it is not the most disturbing way in which turkeys reproduce.
Some baby turkeys are born through the process of parthenogenesis. Shockingly, this is a natural, although rare, occurrence.
Parthenogenesis is when a baby turkey is able to grow inside the egg without fertilization. No genetic material is passed from the male to the female. The baby grows only from the female’s egg with no sperm from a male. Although most of these embryos do not survive, some of the chicks do hatch.
Eggs are laid without being fertilized and three to four weeks later a baby turkey might pop out.