The suffering of farmed turkeys
Turkeys aren't only eaten at Christmas – around 15 million are slaughtered throughout the year in the UK.
Many of the same welfare problems associated with chicken farming are also found in the turkey industry. Most turkeys are kept in large, windowless sheds with reduced light to prevent agression. Modern turkey varieties have been selectively bred for high meat yields and rapid growth. They have a natural life span of approximately 10 years, yet factory farmed turkeys are slaughtered at just 12-26 weeks old. In this short period, they may grow to nearly twice the size of their predecessors of only 25 years ago, and four times the size of their wild ancestors. Their unnatural size prevents turkeys from breeding naturally, so farmers invariably use invasive artificial insemination.
As with broiler chickens, their legs are frequently unable to carry the weight of their ballooning bodies and they collapse and die due to their inability to reach food and water. Disease is widespread on commercial turkey farms, resulting in over a million turkeys (or 7% of the total) dying in their sheds every year. Ulcerated feet and hock burns are common – caused by the birds having to live their lives standing in litter covered in their own excrement. Beak trimming – a painful procedure that involves slicing off the tip of the beak – is actively encouraged in turkeys raised in daylight to prevent injury and is common in birds raised in sheds.
Killing an animal for food can never be regarded as humane. Animals’ lives are just as important to them as ours are to us and none go to the knife willingly. Choosing organic or free-range over factory farmed meat, milk or eggs, continues to cause pain and suffering. The only real solution to end animal suffering is to adopt an animal-free diet. Plant-based foods can provide all the nutrients we need, and with more supermarkets and high street shops stocking vegan food, it’s never been easier.Order a FREE Go Vegan pack