The Bizarre and Cruel Truth about Breeding Turkeys
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

From Free From Harm
October 2013

If masturbating males to collect their semen and forcibly inserting that semen into the hen’s vagina against their will is not rape, then what is it? How can sexual assault be immoral for humans but not for nonhumans who also suffer emotionally and physically — a fact that the “milkers” themselves readily admit to?

turkey inject sperm
Image from United Poultry Concerns (UPC)

Some people strongly object to the use of the word “rape” to refer to the systematic assault of the sexual organs of turkeys to artificially breed them by the millions for meat. According to this logic, the word is apparently only appropriate when referring to human victims, as if to suggest that other animals can’t be victimized and don’t deserve the exclusive status of victimhood reserved only for humans. What words could soften the blow? How about “forced reproduction” or the innocuous industry euphemism, “artificial insemination?”

Domestic turkeys have been bred to be so large, they cannot mate naturally, so hens are forcibly “inseminated” several times. Males are masturbated to get their semen. A “milker” at a turkey breeding facility in Missouri describes his job: “I have never done such hard, dirty, disgusting work in my life: 10 hours of pushing birds, grabbing birds, wrestling birds, jerking them upside down, pushing open their vents, dodging their panic-blown excrement and breathing the dust stirred up by terrified birds.” (1)

On the question of masturbation and insemination, a UK turkey farmer named Paul Kelly told The Independent: “’It’s been happening for 80 years.’” “The turkey was already upside down in Paul’s hands. He swiftly uncovered a hole amidst the feathers, gave it a couple of tweaks, and there was the turkey semen, looking like a bit of crumbly old toothpaste. ‘We take this,’ said Paul, ‘and suck it into a rubber tube. It’s then blown into the vagina.’ He picked up a nearby turkey hen, and revealed the vagina. When he put the bird down, she fluttered her feathers and walked off. Kelly: ‘What she’s doing with her feathers – that’s called rattling. It proves she likes being handled.’” (2)

If masturbating males to collect their semen and forcibly inserting that semen into the hen’s vagina against their will is not rape, then what is it? How can sexual assault be immoral for humans but not for nonhumans who also suffer emotionally and physically — a fact that the “milkers” themselves readily admit to?

(1) United Poultry Concerns, Turkeys.

(2) Andrew Martin, from his 1994 article, The Turkey Fights Back.  


[Ed Note: See videos: Butterball Abuse, Chicken and Turkey Slaughterhouses, "Humane" Turkey Slaughter, Thanksgiving Grace, Turkey "Factory Farming", Turkey Hatchery Babies, Turkeys - Extracting Semen, Turkeys - Injecting Semen, You Haven't Lived Until You've Hugged a Turkey]


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