Here's Where Your Thanksgiving Turkey Came From

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, more than 45 million turkeys are brutally slaughtered for Americans to eat. But many people never think about where these birds come from before they’re stuffed and plated for our Thanksgiving dinners.

The truth is that turkeys, like most animals raised and killed for food, are put through hell at factory farms from the moment they’re born until they’re violently killed.


These animals never get to know the love of their mothers or feel the sunlight on their backs or the grass beneath their feet. Instead, they are subjected to mutilations without painkillers and crammed by the thousands into dark, windowless sheds.

To maximize profits, turkeys are bred to grow so quickly they often become immobilized under their own weight. In fact, the natural lifespan of a turkey is 10 years, but through special breeding, turkeys reach “market size” in just several weeks. Many suffer debilitating leg and joint pain, heart attacks, and organ failure. Because of their immobility, many birds have to sit in their own waste, which causes painful sores and infections.


Once they’ve reached the desired weight, they are rounded up, crammed onto trucks, and shipped to slaughter. The trip can take days. Given no food or water and exposed to all weather conditions, many turkeys die before reaching the slaughterhouse.

Once the turkeys arrive, they are shackled upside down by their feet and have their throats cut open. Some birds are improperly shackled and miss the kill blade, and many are scalded alive in the defeathering tanks.


Mercy For Animals has conducted over half a dozen undercover investigations of turkey factory farms in the United States and Canada. Each time, we have documented horrific abuse:
  • Workers kicking, stomping on, dragging, and throwing turkeys
  • Baby birds being ground up alive in giant macerating machines
  • Turkeys having their toes and beaks cut or burned off without painkillers
  • Injured turkeys left to suffer and die without veterinary care
See for yourself.


Turkeys are just as sensitive and intelligent as the dogs and cats we adore at home. This senseless and horrifying abuse flies in the face of everything Thanksgiving is about: compassion and gratitude.

This year, make the compassionate choice to leave turkey off your Thanksgiving dinner menu. Click here for a list of vegan Thanksgiving recipes.