Australia produces about 5 million turkeys each year and sales are at their highest in December. It is estimated 75 percent of turkeys farmed in Australia are slaughtered for Christmas day meals.
Turkeys are intelligent, emotional birds who so desperately love their lives and want to live.
They are big, stunning birds who are very often laughed about and misunderstood. In the wild turkeys would naturally perch at night in the trees in forests, take dust bathes when they pleased and spend the day foraging and searching for insects and bugs. Sadly, the intensive meat farming industry has taken all of these natural instincts away from turkeys just so humans can eat them whenever they please.
About 5 million turkeys are intensively farmed and eaten by Australians every year. What does this mean for these lovely birds? Just like factory farmed broiler chickens, turkeys are bred to grow as big as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. Factory farmed turkeys are killed between 10 – 17 weeks old, whereas in the wild, turkeys can live up to 10 years old. Because they are selectively bred to grow so huge, they develop leg, joint and bone disorders and they also often die of organ failure or heart disease. They live in cramped conditions, and such stressful living conditions promotes behaviours such as pecking and fighting. Instead of giving each turkey more room in these sheds, farmers cut off part of their beaks and part of their middle toes without pain relief to stop the fighting. Factory farmed turkeys get so large that they often cannot move or stand up and end up stranded on the floors of the sheds covered in their own waste.
Turkeys at free range farms suffer the same fate even though they do get access to the outside world and consumers seem to think it’s a kinder option. Free range turkeys still live in such close quarters with many other turkeys which is incredibly stressful and also means these turkeys are living in mounds of their own waste. The following images are from a free range turkey farm in North East Victoria.
The following film, “The Festive Bird” footage was captured by my brilliant right hand woman earlier this year at a free range turkey farm in North West Victoria. It shows the standard procedures at a free range turkey farm.
Please be aware that there is graphic slaughter footage in this film
The Festive Bird is an ongoing series.