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The Turkey Industry

Every year in the United States, almost 300 million turkeys are killed for their flesh. Virtually 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. 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 stressful, crowded conditions, parts of the turkeys’ toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males’ snoods. (The snood is 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.

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.

Turkeys are bred, drugged, and genetically manipulated to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible to increase profits. In 1970, the average live turkey raised for meat weighed 17 pounds. Today, he or she weighs 28 pounds. 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. Turkeys are now so obese that they cannot reproduce naturally; instead, all the turkeys who are born in the United States today on factory farms are conceived through artificial insemination.

Their unnaturally large size also causes many turkeys to die from organ failure or heart attacks before they are even 6 months old. According to an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal on 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.'”

Factory farm operators walk through the shed to kill the slow-growing turkeys (so that they don’t eat any more food), such as those who fall ill because of the filthy conditions or become crippled under their own weight. 

Take PETA’s pledge to be vegan for 30 days and try removing turkey meat and other animal-derived products from your diet. After just a month, many people report feeling healthier and more energetic. Most of all, following a plant-based diet means saving animals from cruelty.

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