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Black Thursday: The Darkest Season for Turkeys

Sunday, October 27, 2013




“Black Friday” is the term used for the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, but for millions of turkeys the holiday season is the darkest of an already-bleak plight. Between 250 and 300 million turkeys are raised for slaughter every year in the U.S., and more than 46 million of those turkeys are for Thanksgiving alone.

Turkeys are intelligent, curious and social beings who will seek out the companionship of humans and other turkeys. Once their trust is gained, turkeys can be as friendly and loving as a cat or dog. The rescued turkeys at WFAS free-roam the farm and love interacting with staff, volunteers and visitors daily.

But on industrial farms, turkeys never know the comfort of a natural environment or the satisfaction of instinctual behaviors. In natural conditions, baby turkeys would stay with their mothers for up to five months, but turkeys on commercial farms never experience the security or nurturing they instinctively long for. Eggs are collected from traumatized breeding hens and hatched in incubators. The unmothered, frightened hatchlings are then transported to larger facilities where they spend the remaining portion of their brief, miserable lives. With up to 75,000 individuals crammed into a single shed, each turkey is given as little as 2.5 square feet of space, enduring confinement, crowding, disease, and abuse. 

If you’ve never gotten a glimpse of what the four to five months of a commercial turkey’s life is like, you owe it to yourself (and to them) to watch the videos below. It’s undeniable — there’s misery at every stage. You can also read more about the life and death of turkeys raised for food at our Learn page for turkeys.  Turkeys are individuals with distinctive personalities who form caring familial and social relationships, and whose lives are as dear to them as ours are to us. We have no nutritional need to consume turkeys or any animals, so when we kill them, or pay others to kill them, for food we don’t need, we are harming and killing animals for pleasure, which goes against core values most of us hold in common. Compassion is consistent, and turkeys deserve our compassion just as all beings do.

Instead of giving thanks for life by taking life from others, please celebrate life by choosing compassion, not violence. Check out our Guide to Turkey Alternatives and Other Delicious Main Dish Ideas for tons of mouth-watering Thanksgiving recipes. You can also sponsor a rescued turkey at Woodstock Sanctuary, a great way to help us care for needful farmed animals, and a wonderful gift to the animals, yourself, or a loved one you might want to inspire.


This October 2010 undercover video by HSUS gives you a peek behind the walls of the nation’s largest turkey hatchery, Willmar Poultry Company, that processes so many animals that they constitute about 50% of all the whole birds sold in supermarkets.

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This undercover video by Compassion Over Killing shows the mechanized life inside a turkey hatchery.

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This video by Farm Sanctuary takes you inside a breeding facility, where genetically manipulated turkeys are artificially inseminated to keep production at a peak.

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This video by PETA depicts the large growing warehouses, transportation and slaughter. Warning: graphic scenes at the end.

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