You’ll Never Eat Turkeys Again After Reading This
The festive season is far from merry for the millions of turkeys who are still babies when they’re slaughtered so that their dead bodies can be stuffed, dressed, and served up on Christmas dinner plates. These intelligent birds – who can live for up to 10 years in nature – suffer from the day they hatch until the harrowing day they’re slaughtered.
This is what turkeys face before they end up on tables as Christmas dinner:
Workers Violate Turkeys Using Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination is used to impregnate female turkeys, and the entire experience is terrifying and invasive for all the birds used. To collect semen from male turkeys, farmers masturbate the anal area until the phallus is erect. They then hold female turkeys upside down and use a syringe or tube to insert the semen directly into the vagina, often causing injuries.
In nature, turkey mothers communicate with their babies and look after them, just as human mothers do – but in the meat industry, turkey chicks are hatched in large incubators and never meet their parents. Chicks who come into the world only to be slaughtered for Christmas dinner still search instinctively for their mothers – but without any parental guidance, many are unable to find food in the farm sheds and die of starvation.
After hatching, the chicks are chucked onto conveyer belts to be sorted, examined, and prepared as though they were inanimate products. Workers tear off any fragments of shell stuck to their fragile bodies, often injuring them. Chicks who are too small or sick to be profitable are viewed as waste products and are commonly gassed to death – while some are tossed into macerators (grinding machines), their short lives ended as they’re ground up alive while fully conscious.
In an attempt to prevent cannibalism after the chicks are transferred from the hatchery to farm sheds, the ends of their sensitive beaks are cut off when they’re just a few days old. In this terrifying procedure, workers hold their faces up to a machine that uses an infrared beam or a hot blade to cut the beak. They’re given no pain relief, so they can feel every moment of this horror, just as humans would feel every moment if their fingertips were chopped off. A portion of the toes of male chicks may also be removed, often resulting in wounds, blood loss, and pain.
Up to 25,000 turkeys can be confined to a single dark, filthy, cramped shed, where they’ll spend the rest of their lives before being taken to the abattoir. They often develop ulcers on their feet and painful ammonia burns on their breasts and feet as a result of standing on dirty, wet litter all day long. They never get to see daylight, and as the severe crowding means they can hardly move around, they commonly suffer from growth abnormalities. As these birds are deliberately bred to have abnormally large breasts, they often develop hip problems and chronic pain as well.
Investigations into British turkey farms have exposed horrific cruelty to birds. Footage by Hillside Animal Sanctuary reveals that farmers “played baseball” with turkeys inside a Bernard Matthews turkey shed, and multiple investigations by Viva! have uncovered the neglect of injured birds who were crammed so tightly into feeders that they couldn’t even eat.
When turkeys reach the weight at which they’ll be slaughtered, workers usually grab them by the legs and throw them into crates for the gruelling trip to the abattoir. Often, the birds sustain broken legs and severe bruising as a result of the rough handling. As many as 2,000 birds can be shoved into a single lorry, and some don’t survive the journey – many die from freezing temperatures or in road accidents.
They’re Tightly Shackled, Hung Upside Down, and Killed
At the abattoir, the distressed birds are hung upside down with their feet in shackles and dragged head-first through an electrically charged water bath intended to stun them. Terrified, the birds often struggle in their shackles and flap their wings, causing them extremely painful electric shocks. Many aren’t properly stunned and remain fully conscious as their throats are slit.
© L214 - Ethics & Animals. Disclaimer: the slaughter of hens in this image resembles what happens to turkeys when they endure this process.
Humans Pay for This Cruelty When They Eat Turkey at Christmas
Every single year, the abuse and slaughter of approximately 14 million turkeys in the UK is caused by people who choose to eat their flesh for Christmas dinner or any other meal. In December alone, 2 million are killed, so rather than being a time of peace and compassion, Christmas means pain and torment for turkeys.
Leave Animals off Your Plate This Christmas and Beyond
The best way to help turkeys and other animals all year round is by going vegan. By rejecting the cruelty that takes place in hatcheries, on factory farms, and in abattoirs and making some easy and delicious changes when you prepare dinner, you’ll spare the lives of nearly 200 animals a year. Take our January vegan pledge to get started:
Check out the hearty roast dinner options available in the UK that you can enjoy without contributing to the exploitation and suffering of turkeys and other animals.