Progress for Turkeys - ASPCA Report (TRIGGER WARNING)
Please be advised that the following article contains content that some readers may find distressing. The article discusses the topic of animal abuse and suffering, including graphic descriptions of cruel treatment and harm inflicted on animals in factory farming. Readers who have experienced trauma related to animal abuse may find this content triggering. If you need support, please reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or a mental health professional.
Approximately 240 million turkeys [PDF] are raised for meat in the U.S. annually. Like chickens, turkeys suffer from growth-related lameness and are housed in groups on the floors of long sheds where they are denied fresh air, sunshine and pasture. Turkeys also develop abnormal behaviors in these environments, which can result in cannibalism. The ASPCA is working actively with companies that raise turkeys or buy turkeys to encourage the adoption of higher-welfare practices.
Modern, industrially raised turkeys look very little like their wild ancestors. For one, they are disproportionately breast-heavy (a result of genetic selection), reflecting a consumer preference for breast meat. Their unnaturally fast and disproportionate growth causes painful physical ailments and difficulty walking or even breathing.
Turkeys have become so unnaturally disproportionate that they can no longer mate with one another. Their bodies, which were only meant to reproduce once per year, are further damaged by year-round artificial insemination.
Between 1930 and 2017, the weight of the average turkey raised for food in the U.S. more than doubled from 13 to 30 pounds.
Turkeys have the innate urge to perch and fly, but the selectively bred turkeys on factory farms are too large to do so.
Progress for Turkeys
Consumers are becoming savvy to misleading labels on turkey. Learn more about what various claims and certifications mean with ASPCA Turkey Label Guide.