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The Development Team

Gobble This Up!

November 23, 2009 —
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We’ve blogged quite a bit about Wolfram|Alpha’s nutritional data, and with Thanksgiving this week, U.S. users are probably already peppering us with queries like “turkey leg + mashed potatoes + gravy + cranberry sauce + stuffing + pumpkin pie.” But you probably didn’t know that you could go a little further up the food-supply chain now—all the way to the “turkey population of all countries,” if you’re so inclined—and see that Americans are clearly the biggest turkey-gobblers on the planet, with a livestock population of more than 270 million birds.

Our new data, which comes from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), covers worldwide populations of turkeys, chickens, sheep, pigs, and other livestock animals from 1961 to 2007… which lets you uncover some interesting trends. Ask Wolfram|Alpha about “chickens vs cows in the USA,” for example, and you’ll clearly see a dramatic half-century increase in chicken, while the cattle population has undergone a slight but steady decline. Or try comparing “chickens in US and China,” and you’ll see not only an even more dramatic growth in the Chinese chicken population, but also an equally dramatic drop in population between 1997 and 1998—when Chinese authorities ordered the slaughter of millions of chickens in response to the 1997 outbreak of avian flu in Hong Kong.

And for all the smart alecks out there: yes, Wolfram|Alpha knows exactly what you mean when you ask, “How many turkeys are in Turkey?” Happy holidays!


Thanks for the post. This will make Wolfram|Alpha something to keep an eye on for agri-marketing research and ag decision making.

John Blue
Truffle Media Networks
Ag Media You Can Use

Posted by john blue November 23, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Interesting, the answer to “how many Turks in Turkey” gets a surprising answer though.

Posted by Gert November 24, 2009 at 5:40 am

All I can say is, sometimes I can’t wait for the aliens to come and eat us all because they are smarter, stronger, and have better technology than us.

Posted by Eric Parfitt November 26, 2009 at 3:03 am

Oh nice, yeah, way to delete my comment promoting vegetarianism.

Posted by Eric Parfitt November 28, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Oh, um, it’s back now… thanks?

Posted by Eric Parfitt December 5, 2009 at 11:02 pm