Ben Franklin called turkeys "true American originals." He had tremendous respect for their resourcefulness, agility, and beauty. Turkeys are intelligent animals who enjoy having their feathers stroked and who like listening to music, with which they will often loudly sing along. In nature, turkeys can fly 55 miles an hour, run 18 miles an hour, and live up to 10 years.
But the story is very different for turkeys on factory farms: They will be killed when they are only 5 or 6 months old and, during their short lives, will be denied even the simplest pleasures, such as running, building nests, and raising their young.
Like chickens, the 300 million turkeys raised and killed for their flesh every year in the United States have no federal legal protection. More than 45 million turkeys are killed each year at Thanksgiving alone, and more than 22 million die at Christmas.
Before ending up as holiday centerpieces, these gentle, intelligent birds spend five to six months on factory farms, where thousands of them are packed into dark sheds with no more than 3.5 square feet of space per bird. Turkeys are genetically bred to grow as fast as possible, and they often become crippled under their own weight.
To keep the crowded birds from scratching and pecking each other to death, workers cut off portions of the birds' toes and upper beaks with hot blades and de-snood the males (the snood is the flap of skin that runs from the beak to the chest). No pain relievers are used during any of these procedures.
A PETA investigator videotaped one turkey-farm operator beating sick and injured birds to death with a pole, a killing method deemed "standard industry practice."Turkeys won't have the opportunity to breathe fresh air or feel the sun on their backs until they're shoved onto trucks bound for slaughter. They are transported for hours without food or water through all weather extremes—and many will die on this nightmarish journey. At the slaughterhouse, the survivors are hung upside-down by their weak and crippled legs before their heads are dragged through an electrified "stunning tank," which immobilizes but does not kill them. Many birds dodge the tank and are still completely conscious when their throats are slit. If the knife fails to properly cut the birds' throats, they are scalded alive in the tank of boiling water used for feather removal.
You can help. Order PETA's free vegetarian/vegan starter kit and we will send you tips and recipes to help you remove turkey meat and other animal-derived products from your diet today.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.