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From Camille Woodruff - 12 Dec 2005

I am a turkey 'farmer', and a member of two groups dedicated to the preservation of Heritage breed turkeys. I do not de-beak, de-claw, use AI or confine my birds in the industry's standard 2 square ft per bird.

I personally do not eat turkeys or raise them for slaughter or knowingly sell them to people who are going to; however, the breeding stock I raise is going to be used to produce turkeys for somebody's meals, eventually.

While the commercial breeds are pitiful abominations, compared to real turkeys, they share one thing with Heritage and Wild varieties: they would not be raised by people (most people) if they were not food. It is the same with most livestock - these animals are only perpetuated because people eat them.

Pigs are a particularly good example of this. They are large, intelligent, well armed, dangerous, and in direct competition with us when not under human control. If we hadn't domesticated them to eat, millennia ago, they'd be extinct - we'd have exterminated them.

I agree with you entirely about standard commercial poultry practice. It should be stopped. However, to lump all free-range turkey (and other poultry) operations into the same abysmal category is inaccurate and ultimately does the turkeys etc a disservice.

Most consumers are either too ignorant or careless to notice your message. They are not going to stop eating fowl. Instead of including the small farm, free range poultry producers with Big Ag, you'd save a lot more fowl from this misery by becoming informed about the part of the farm community that raises their animals humanely, and sees too it that the slaughter process is as un-prolonged and compassionate as possible. And by encouraging people who insist on eating meat to seek out alternatives like Slow-Food or local organic farmers with a personal interest and involvement with their animals.

Instead of condemning the alternative farm community along with monsters like Butterball, you COULD be working against the NAIS project, which will eventually eliminate alternative livestock agriculture and leave the meat and fowl industry entirely under the control of the worst offenders. The identifying, microchipping and tracking of all animals will not eliminate meat production, but it will eliminate small producers and establish a government supported no-public-contact monopoly (under the guise of biosecurity) for the largest, most inhumane commercial producers.

Also, for your information, the lifespan you have for non-commercial turkeys is incorrect; the turkeys that are *not* outside during idi-day are behaving normally -- even if they have unlimited access to outdoors, they will go into shaded areas and nap during the middle of the day; one of your pictures of mutilated turkey feet is a disease syndrome, not from declawing; the Wild turkey hen in your photos has non-wild offspring, judging by the colors.

Dallas OR

Reply from Frank and Mary

Dear Camille:

Thank you very much for telling us about your turkey farm and for the other information.

From our investigations, and those of others we work with, most free range operations are not as humane as you indicate, and they also send their animals to the same slaughterhouses. We'd be interested in visiting a truly humane free range operation, where we'd be free to take photos and report on our findings. (hopefully a place in the Northeast)

We'd also be interested in knowing more about the humane slaughter methods your mentioned.

You started to write about the age of turkeys, but them seemed to get sidetracked. What is the correct life expectancy? The information we have is from poultry experts, and we're curious about the difference.

We look forward to hearing from you again.

In the Love of the Lord,

Frank and Mary

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