Around 5 million turkeys are slaughtered every year in Australia, with most used for Christmas dinners.
Turkeys are social and playful, and they love having their feathers stroked. But on factory farms, their lives are cut short and they’re denied everything that’s natural and important to them.
Here are five things you may not know about these birds:
1. Turkeys have been genetically modified to gain weight rapidly, because fatter turkeys mean fatter wallets for farmers. In nature, these birds can run and fly, but on factory farms, most struggle to walk under the weight of their unnaturally heavy breasts.
Animal Liberation ACT
2. The natural lifespan of a turkey is as long as 10 years, but on factory farms, the birds are slaughtered when they’re just 10 to 12 weeks old. Because their bodies are unnaturally heavy and distorted, they’re prone to developing arthritis as well as suffering from heart attacks and organ failure.
3. People who care for turkeys at sanctuaries call them “natural detectives”. The birds are naturally curious – always checking out new sights and smells – and enjoy greeting visitors.
4. In nature, turkeys stay with their mothers for up to five months after they’re born. These gentle birds have strong bonds with their young – in the wild, mother turkeys courageously defend their families against predators.
5. Turkeys on factory farms rarely get to experience the natural rhythms of sunlight and darkness. They live in artificial lighting, which is manipulated to distort their normal sleeping and feeding patterns and increase the number of times they eat.
Like all other animals used for food, turkeys face a terrifying journey to the slaughterhouse. Then their heads are submerged in an electrified “stunning tank”, their throats are slashed by a mechanical blade, and they’re dumped into boiling-hot water in order to remove their feathers.
You can help turkeys and all other animals this Christmas by eating vegan.