Nearly 50 million turkeys will die this Thanksgiving season, and almost all will be raised on factory farms under abominable conditions. Intensive confinement will drive these gentle birds to fight with one another, just as you or I would do if we were crammed together for our entire lives. So that they don’t severely harm one another, which would cut into profits, the tips of their beaks and toes are cut off. The mutilations are done without anesthesia — as that might cost a penny a bird — and businesses don’t spend money when they don’t have to. At about four months of age, the turkeys are sent to a mega-slaughterhouse, where many will be boiled alive. This is the result of fast-moving line speeds that prevent workers from being able to slit the turkeys’ throats before they are dropped into scalding water. This is perfectly legal, since poultry is exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
A few birds are marketed as "humanely raised," as we see from advertisements in the Mountain Xpress and other places. There is no legal definition of this term, and conditions vary. Some are raised and slaughtered in situations that mirror the descriptions above. Others live on smaller farms and are killed in smaller batches. The degree of suffering may vary, but they all clearly suffer. Webster's New World Dictionary defines humane as "having what are considered the best qualities of human beings: kind, tender, merciful, sympathetic, etc." Call me crazy, but I’d like to think that enslaving and slaughtering animals isn’t the best of what our species has to offer.
Why not start a new family tradition this year, and adopt, rather than eat, a turkey? Visit www.FarmSanctuary.org to learn more about these intelligent, inquisitive animals. Meet some of the lucky ones living out their lives at one of Farm Sanctuary's three wonderful sanctuaries.
— Stewart David