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Where Do 'Thanksgiving Turkeys' Come From?

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Posted November 25, 2015 by Hannah Healy

Thanksgiving is a time for family to come together and give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives. However, 87 million turkeys are slaughtered and eaten for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

The vast majority of turkeys spend their entire lives on factory farms. Being caught and transported is particularly stressful for birds, yet they are repeatedly moved during their short lives—from the hatchery to the brooding (warming)  area to the growing area and finally to the slaughterhouse.

Baby-Turkeys

Thousands of turkeys are often packed into dark sheds, with no more than 3.5 square feet of space per bird.

turkeys-in-shed

To keep the birds from injuring and killing one another in such stressful, crowded conditions, parts of the turkeys’ toes and beaks are CUT OFF. The males’ snoods (the flap of skin over the beak) are also cut off. All this is done without any pain relievers.

Suffering-Turkey

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

Sitting-Turkey

Turkeys are genetically manipulated to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible in order to increase profits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms that the average turkey destined for today’s dinner table weighs a whopping 57 percent more than his or her peers did in 1965. Today, a bird can weigh 35 pounds in as little as five months!

Large-Turkey

Turkeys are now so obese that they cannot reproduce naturally. Instead, the turkeys born on factory farms in the United States today are conceived through artificial insemination.

A-bunch-of-Turkey-Chicks

Factory-farmed turkeys are so large that they can barely walk, and they are unable to fly like their wild cousins.

Sick-Turkey

In 2006, undercover PETA investigators worked at a Butterball facility in Arkansas and observed that live birds were slammed against transport trucks and walls, kicked, hung upside down by their broken legs, and used as punching bags.

hatchery, cute, sad, bird

A PETA investigation of Minnesota-based Crestview Farm revealed that the farm’s manager repeatedly used a metal pipe to bludgeon 12-week-old turkeys who were lame, injured, ill, or otherwise unsuitable for slaughter and consumption.

Turkeys-in-transport-truck

At the slaughterhouse, those who survive transport will have their throats slit, often while they’re still conscious. Some remain conscious when they’re plunged into the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tanks or while their bodies are being hacked apart.

This “Turkey Day,” think of the turkeys and leave them off your plate. With so many delicious, cruelty-free options, it’s easy! Compassionate vegan food companies like Tofurky, Field Roast, Vegetarian Plus, and Gardein make some seriously delish vegan alternatives to turkey. Check ’em out:

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