During our Celebration for the Turkeys events and the Adopt a Turkey Project in November, everyone at Farm Sanctuary is talking turkey. So, imagine our surprise when caregivers at our New York Shelter discovered three new turkeys in one of our barns one morning! These birds narrowly escaped becoming holiday dinner when they were dropped off in the night by an anonymous rescuer just days before Thanksgiving.
Our surprise turkeys are Midget Whites, a heritage breed distinct from the Broad-Breasted Whites favored by large-scale producers, but they still bear the telltale signs of life on a factory farm.
They arrived limping on twisted, deformed toes and sick with upper respiratory infections. Such ailments are common in industry facilities, where the air in poorly ventilated warehouses is thick with dust and ammonia and individual care, even for gravely ill birds, is virtually nonexistent. Also, the close quarters in industrial facilities make infections more likely to spread, which was the case with these three birds who all suffered from mycoplasma. With medication and care, though, these three are now completely healthy and ready to move on to their new home in Massachusetts next week.
Winterberry, Snow, and JuJu Bee are sweet despite the cruelty they clearly endured. As we help them recover and heal by providing the compassionate care they need, they are beginning to explore the joys their new home has to offer.
All three have been “de-beaked” but, thankfully, were not “de-toed” — both standard industry procedures in which the beak-tips and toe-tips of newly hatched baby turkeys are amputated with a hot blade, shears, or electrical current, without the use of anesthetics or analgesics. This practice, which is painful and can even be fatal, is to prevent injury in the miserably overcrowded facilities where birds are so stressed and frustrated that they are driven to fighting. Turkeys in production spend their entire lives packed into barren warehouses, never experiencing the outdoors or relief.
Here, at Farm Sanctuary, they are free to satisfy every natural instinct that had been stifled by factory life. For the first time, these turkeys can sit and roost comfortably on straw bedding and bales, roam with their flock, feel dirt beneath their feet, breathe fresh air, and delight in the warm sun
Thanks to their anonymous rescuer, these three turkeys are experiencing a life that the hundreds of millions slaughtered for food in the United States every year will never know. Tens of millions perished just for this past Thanksgiving alone. And each was as unique and deserving of happiness as our three new friends. This holiday season, we’re thankful for all of the turkeys living at our shelters who inspire people to think differently about their food choices, and we’re thankful for all of you who have joined us in creating a more compassionate world for farm animals everywhere.