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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 12 November 2007 Issue


Turkey Factory Farms

Turkeys are packed together so tightly that they often can’t even spread their wings.

Every year in the United States, 300 million turkeys are killed for their flesh.5 Almost all spend their entire lives on factory farms and have no federal legal protection.

Turkeys raised on factory farms are hatched in large incubators and never see their mothers or feel the warmth of a nest.6 When they are only a few weeks old, they are moved into filthy, windowless sheds with thousands of other turkeys, where they will spend the rest of their lives. To keep the birds from killing one another in such crowded conditions, parts of the turkeys’ toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males’ snoods (the flap of skin under the chin). All this is done without any pain relievers—imagine having the skin under your chin chopped off with a pair of scissors.7 Millions of turkeys don’t even make it past the first few weeks of life in a factory farm before succumbing to “starve-out,” a stress-induced condition that causes young birds to simply stop eating.8

Turkeys are bred, drugged, and genetically manipulated to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible to increase profits. According to one industry publication, modern turkeys grow so quickly that if a 7 pound human baby grew at the same rate, the infant would weigh 1,500 pounds at just 18 weeks of age.9 Turkeys are now so obese that they cannot reproduce naturally; instead, all the turkeys who are born in the United States today are conceived through artificial insemination.10 Read “My Day Working as a Turkey Breeder,” a first hand account of this cruel process.

The large amount of feces in the shed causes an ammonia buildup that severely burns turkeys’ skin.

Their unnaturally large size also causes many turkeys to die from organ failure or heart attacks before they are even 6 months old.12 According an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal about the miserable conditions on turkey farms, “It’s common in a rearing house to find a dead bird surrounded by four others whose hearts failed after they watched the first one ‘fall back and go into convulsions, with its wings flapping wildly.’”13 When they grow so obese that their legs can’t even support their own weight, turkeys may become crippled—some of these birds starve to death within inches of water.

Minnesota Turkey Farm Investigation 

When turkeys fall ill because of the filthy conditions or become crippled under their own weight, farmers walk through the shed to cull the slow-growing animals (so that they don’t eat any more food). A PETA investigation in Minnesota, the number-one turkey-producing state in the country, revealed that the manager of the farm repeatedly used a metal pipe to bludgeon 12-week-old turkeys who were lame, injured, ill, or otherwise unsuitable for slaughter and consumption. The injured birds were thrown onto piles of other dead and dying birds then tossed into a wheelbarrow for disposal. Birds who were overlooked were kicked or beaten with pliers or had their necks wrung—all in full view of other terrified birds. When the Minnesota Turkey Growers came to the defense of the farmer, the local district attorney refused to prosecute. Learn more and watch the video.

Learn more about transport and slaughter below:


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