Animal Profile: Thank a Turkey


December 17, 2012

Care of Bonnie Shulman

 Rescued turkeys at Farm Sanctuary

Turkeys are perhaps the least known of all farmed animals, because to most people they come wrapped tightly in the grocery store, as though they were never living beings at all. Any resemblance to a once-living bird has been pulverized out of the sanitized package shoppers delightfully pick up, wondering if this or that one is “big enough” for the holiday gathering. The answer is of course yes: turkeys are bred to be huge.

Meet a turkey on a farm sanctuary and you’ll probably never eat another one again in your life. That’s because turkeys are fabulously gregarious with each other, and so sensitive that they even blush. They dance, jump, flap, and celebrate together.  They crave human affection.  In the springtime, when mating season comes around, male turkeys, also called “Tom Turkeys” or “Gobblers”, puff up and spread their tail feathers (just like a peacock).

They make that famous “gobble gobble” sound and shake their feathers.  This helps the male attract females for mating.  Residents of Muskoka can often see wild turkeys in the evening, darting quickly across the dirt roads of cottage country. When the moon rises, wild turkeys fly to the treetops, where they roost for the night.

Unlike their wild counterparts, turkeys on factory farms are fattened to such an extent that they become too heavy to ever fly. They live in crowded, suffocating conditions and are cruelly treated by farm workers who see them only as product. Turkeys, like all other farmed animals, are farmed for a profit, and so measures that would make their lives more bearable or humane, measures that would cut into profit, are not on the menu.  That’s why I suggest you consider taking turkey off your menu, and visiting for more compassionate holiday meal choices.

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