The Turkey Industry

Every year in the United States, about 245 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’re only a few weeks old, they’re moved into filthy, windowless sheds with thousands of other turkeys, where they’ll spend the rest of their lives.

To keep the birds from killing one another in such stressful, crowded conditions, parts of their toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males’ snoods. (The snood is the flesh that grows above a male turkey’s beak.) All this is done without any pain relievers. Imagine having the skin under your chin chopped off with a pair of scissors.

Many turkeys don’t even make it past the first few weeks of life on a factory farm before succumbing to “starve-out,” a stress-induced condition that causes young birds to stop eating.

Turkeys are bred, drugged, and genetically manipulated to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible to increase profits. In 1960, average turkeys raised for meat weighed about 17 pounds. Today, they weigh 30 pounds. Turkeys are now so obese that they can’t reproduce naturally; instead, the majority of the birds who are born in the United States today on factory farms are conceived through artificial insemination.

Their unnaturally large size causes many of them to become crippled under their own weight or to die from organ failure or heart attacks before they’re 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.'”

Take PETA’s pledge to go vegan and remove turkey meat and other animal-derived foods from your diet. After just a month, many people report feeling healthier and more energetic. Most of all, going vegan means saving animals from cruelty.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind