More than 45 million turkeys are killed each year at Thanksgiving alone, and more than 22 million die at Christmas. Here’s why you should care:

Most turkeys used for food will spend their entire lives trapped on factory farms. They have no federal legal protections.

Farmers hatch them in large incubators. They never see their mothers or are able to do any of the natural things that make turkeys happy. This is when their living nightmare begins.

When the birds are only a few weeks old, workers will move them to dark sheds with thousands of other turkeys. They’ll be trapped in this disgusting environment for most of their lives.

Such crowded, stressful conditions can cause them to scratch and peck each other to death. To prevent this, farm workers cut off the birds’ snoods (the flaps of skin under their chins) and parts of their toes and beaks. All of this is done without any painkillers.

Turkey on factory farm

To increase profit, over the years, the U.S. turkey industry has bred, drugged, and genetically manipulated these animals in order to make them grow as large as possible as quickly as possible.  The birds’ unnaturally large size causes many of them to die from organ failure or heart attacks. Sometimes, their legs break underneath their own bodyweight.

crippled turkey

It’s standard industry practice to beat sick and injured birds to death.


When they’re just 5 or 6 months old, they’re sent to slaughter. This is probably the only time that they ever breathe fresh air or feel the sunshine.

The birds are shipped through all weather conditions, without food or water, to the slaughterhouse. Millions die every year during transport.

At the slaughterhouse, workers hang them upside down in shackles. A machine that resembles a conveyor belt then drags the terrified birds through an electrified stunning tank, which immobilizes them but doesn’t kill them.


Many birds dodge the tank and, therefore, are fully conscious when they’re moved along to a blade that’s supposed to slit their throats. Sometimes, the blade fails to cut their throats properly, which means that they’re scalded alive when the machine dunks them in a tank of hot water used for feather removal.


How You Can Help Turkeys

Even turkeys whose flesh is labeled “humane” or “free range” experience most of the same horrors that turkeys on other farms do. The most important thing that you can do to help turkeys is to stop eating them.

You don’t have to contribute to these animals’ misery. In fact, MILLIONS of people in the U.S. alone lead healthy and happy lives without consuming any meat, eggs, or dairy “products.” Check out our list of vegan turkey alternatives to get started!