Each year, around 18 million turkeys are slaughtered in the UK – with around 10 million killed for the Christmas market alone. The vast majority of them spend their short lives in vast industrial sheds and never go outside.
Turkeys have a zest for living and, treated with respect, they become very friendly. Turkeys have large, dark, almond-shaped eyes and sensitive fine-boned faces. Wild turkeys roost in trees and roam in woodlands, eating vegetation and insects. An adult bird can fly up to 50mph!
Intensively farmed turkeys are fattened up so quickly that often their legs cannot support them. They collapse and try to drag themselves along by their wings. Tens of thousands die each year because they cannot get to food and water points. They become so fat that their hearts can actually explode.
Many turkeys have the ends of their beaks cut off to stop plucking and cannibalism – behaviour caused by stress. This can be distressing and leave them in permanent pain.
At the slaughterhouse, most are hung upside down and dragged through an electrified water-bath to stun them. It doesn’t always work and many birds are still fully conscious when their throats are cut.