What Your Turkey Ate

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The new diet, called "the Missour Ideal Turkey Diet" increasues use of less expensive grains and relies on amino acid additives. Click to enlarge this image. Corbis

-A new turkey feed increasues use of less expensive grains and relies on amino acid additives.
-The switch to this diet could save the turkey industry $100 million each year.

We all anticipate our favorite Thanksgiving dish — cornbread stuffing, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes and turkey.

But what exactly does the turkey eat before we eat it?

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In fact, scientists have developed a new turkey feed for mass market turkeys that could change Thanksgiving for many.

The new feed promises to keep prices of the sometime pricey bird low while maintaining quality.

Most commercially raised “turkeys eat a diet that is computer formulated for the least cost and consists of corn, soybean meal, animal by-products, distillers’ grains and a variety of vitamin and mineral sources,” Jeff Firman, a professor in the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, told Discovery News.

Distillers’ grains are leftovers from the ethanol industry. Starch is removed, concentrating protein. The animal by-products come from the rendering industry.

“They include bones, bits of trimmings, and other stuff that we don’t eat,” he said.

In the wild, turkeys are omnivores whose diet consists of about 80 percent grass rounded out by other vegetation, seeds, insects and small animals.

Some heritage and organic poultry farmers feed their turkeys all vegetarian diets with no synthetic amino acids. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center suggests these alternative markets continue to grow. But data from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association shows that the vast majority of turkey sales are from mass-market suppliers.              More

Candice writes for several publications, including The Christian Post, Red State, The Black Sphere and Patriot Update. She is the Science & Tech Editor at the Minority Report Blog and the founder and Editor-in-Chief at Front Lines. She's also the founder of Candice Lanier's Tech News and works as a computer consultant. Additionally, Candice is an antiques dealer.