The Inhumane Treatment of Factory-Farmed Turkeys


A baby turkey, also known as a chick or poult, being friendly at the Indiana State Fair.

Paige Mathewson, Writer

When Americans think ‘turkey,’ they think of Thanksgiving Dinner. Turkey drowned in gravy is a popular dish. It almost seems wrong to NOT have turkey on Thanksgiving, doesn’t it? Turkeys are also one of America’s most beloved avian animals. Benjamin Franklin argued that the turkey should be the bird on the national seal. He stated that the turkey is “a much more respectable bird and a true native of America,” as opposed to the bald eagle.

Despite turkeys’ popularity, they suffer horrifying lives in factory farms. Their first breath is taken in a large incubator with countless other eggs. They never meet their mothers. The chicks are overcrowded into large windowless rooms, with no ventilation. As chicks, they often have part of their top beak removed, without any pain relief, to prevent fighting. Their toes are amputated as well. Broiler turkeys are bred to grow four times their natural weight. Male turkeys often end up crippled, as their legs are not built to support such extreme weight. Disease spreads like wildfire, and injuries go unseen.

Even during death, they are not allowed peace. They are crammed into crates with other turkeys for transport. Broken bones are common after they are thrust into a box. Many birds expire before they even reach the slaughter house. They may die of dehydration, starvation, extreme temperatures, and stress.

Poultry are exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which is a federal law that ensures animals are humanely killed. The poultry category includes turkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, and rabbits. They are dangled by the legs and have their throat slit by a circular blade, and they are dunked into scalding water to loosen their feathers. Often, turkeys to survive the blade end up being boiled to death or drowned.

I, personally, have interacted with turkeys, chickens, and other poultry throughout my life. I even have two pet ducks! (Pictured Below) Contrary to belief, they are smart, social, loving animals. They form tight bonds with their flock. And if you are part of their flock, they’ll bond with you! I have raised Lizzie and Maria since they were two days old, and they saw me as their mother. Ducks are just like dogs, just feathered, and messy.

My pet ducks, Maria on the left and Lizzie on the right, celebrating their first Christmas.

This intelligence is shared with turkeys as well. They are very emotional and form strong bonds with their families. You wouldn’t want to see your beloved dog suffering, correct? That’s what turkeys feel. They have the emotions that dogs have, and their lives should be worth as much as your dog’s life.

This Thanksgiving, pass on the turkey, or buy from a local farmer. Factory-farmed turkeys are tortured until they die, and the juicy breast on your plate is not worth it. You can help solve this problem by obtaining your poultry from humane sources, or just completely avoiding it. If the demand for factory-farmed meat goes down, less animals will suffer.