Friday, November 12, 2010

"The Barnyard Fool" from Edcon Publishing

Things you will read about: incubator: a container that hatches eggs by providing warmth, moisture, and oxygen.

protein: a chemical mixture necessary to all living things

"Didn't he play that game like a real turkey?"

How often have you heard a person described as a turkey? Perhaps often, because today the word "turkey" is sometimes used to label someone as a failure, or not smart. We seem to label people "turkeys" because we feel that they are stupid. Of course, labeling people as stupid isn't kind. But whoever started connecting the word "stupid" with "turkey" made a good selection. Of all the barnyard creatures, the turkey takes the prize for sheer foolishness.

Look at a turkey, and you will see that it is almost all body. A tiny head sits on top of its long neck. It is obvious that only a pea-sized brain will fit into that small head, and that a little brain has to operate that big body. The turkey is like the dinosaur of ancient times, almost too stupid to keep on living.

The turkey's reputation for being stupid starts with the egg. If the mother turkey doesn't hide her nest and eggs from the father, he will break them. Obviously, no new turkeys can be born into the world that way. So turkey farmers hatch the eggs without mothers by using a machine called an incubator. The machine keeps the eggs warm and turns them over and over very gently. The incubator acts just as a mother turkey should. Once it is hatched, the turkey's troubles are just beginning. Eating is a necessity for all creatures, so there aren't many that won't eat shortly after birth. But the turkey is one that won't. If left to itself, it will stand in a field of food and starve to death. Turkey raisers must drop shiny objects, like marbles, into the baby turkey's food so that it will peck at the marbles. As it pecks at the shiny marbles out of curiosity, it will pick up food accidentally.

Learning to eat causes another problem for the turkey. Sometimes it doesn't have enough sense to stop. It will keep on eating until it chokes to death. The farmer has to watch each turkey's eating habits closely.

But the business of eating is only the first crisis the turkey faces while growing up. A farmer noticed one day that a turkey chick had a slight limp. Next day, the same chick's wing seemed hurt. On the third day, the poor chick couldn't even stand on its wounded leg. It was obvious that other chicks were attacking the injured one and were doing a little more damage each day. The farmer had to put the chick into a separate pen. Otherwise, the others would have pecked it to death. Turkeys obviously don't look out for each other. A rainstorm can be a crisis on the turkey farm because turkeys don't have sense enough to come in out of the rain. Many of them will stick their beaks into the air and try to drink all the raindrops they can. Naturally, some manage to drown themselves.

Because turkeys are easily frightened, a loud or unusual noise can cause another crisis. The turkeys will run in sheer panic and pile on top of each other against fences. In these stack-ups, many are smothered. But the turkey's low intelligence isn't all "nature's fault. We helped make it that way. How did we do it? By developing turkeys that provide us with our favorite kind of turkey meat. At Thanksgiving Dinner, for instance, we are offered a selection of white or dark meat. Which will most of us choose? We will choose the white meat. As white meat comes from the turkey's breast, the farmer tries to please us by developing fowls with large breasts. The turkey ends up with a lot more white meat on its body, but with no more brains in its head.

Growing meat is the one thing the turkey does well. It does that much better than any other barnyard animal. A steer needs eight pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat, and a pig eats four pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat. The witless wonder, however, needs only two pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat. Also, turkey meat is high in protein. In fact, only fish yield more protein. Compared to the pig and the steer, the turkey wastes little weight on bones of its body. Its meat has only ten per cent fat, but the steer and the pig have from thirty to forty per cent.

Trying to get people to buy more turkey hasn't been easy. Many of us use turkeys only for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. Just two big selling months a year aren't good for the turkey raising business. It is a necessity for the farmer to sell the birds all year round. Farmers try several ways to sell turkeys throughout the year. One method they use is to sell turkey parts instead of whole turkeys. Legs, breasts, and wings can be bought separately so there will not be days of leftovers. Turkey rolls or roasts, which are often half white meat and half dark meat, are another way to boost sales. These rolls have no bones and can be sliced as a loaf of bread is. You can buy such things as turkeyburgers, turkey steaks, and even turkey lunch meat for your sandwiches. Turkey raisers will continue to look for new ways to sell their product.
Raising enough food for everyone is a world problem today. As one farmer said, "The turkey is an eating machine, and it can really grow meat." Perhaps the turkey may someday become a real barnyard wonder by helping to solve this food crisis.

1. The word "turkey" is sometimes used to label someone who __________
a. has a long neck.
b. is not smart.
c. hides eggs.
d. loves barnyard creatures.

2. The turkey has _____________
a. a pea-sized brain.
b. a small body.
c. a large brain.
d. a brain equal in size to its body.

3. Turkey fathers ______________
a. care for the eggs very well.
b. care for the eggs for the first month.
c. destroy the eggs.
d. hide the eggs.

4. The newly hatched turkey needs help learning __________
a. to eat.
b. to sleep.
c. to peck.
d. to see.

5. Turkeys are frightened by _____________
a. rainstorms.
b. loud noises.
c. snowflakes.
d. other turkeys.

6. The turkey farmer is important in supplying our country with _________
a. food.
b. pets.
c. eggs.
d. feathers.

7. The turkey farmer usually has ____________
a. good sales all year.
b. good sales at Thanksgiving only.
c. good sales at Christmas only.
d. two big sales months a year.

8. "The witless wonder" is another name for ____________
a. the incubator.
b. the turkey farmer.
c. the turkey scientist.
d. the turkey.

9. Another name for this story could be _____________
a. "The Bird That Nobody Loves."
b. "The Stupid, Useful Turkey."
c. "Turkey Farming."
d. "Helping Turkeys Hatch."

10. This story is mainly about ____________ .
a. the problems of raising turkeys.
b. the job of the turkey farmer.
c. the turkey's small brain.
d. the habits and the value of turkeys.

Turkey facts from Youtube:

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