Over 300 million turkeys are slaughtered in the US each year, and an estimated 46 million turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving just so Americans can give thanks (for something).
With as many as 10,000 birds packed into a single building, turkeys are confined so tightly that each individual bird typically has only 2.5 to 4 square feet of floor space. As turkeys grow, the air inside buildings can become so dusty and ammonia-filled that birds have trouble breathing and suffer from irritated, swollen eyes.
Turkeys are selectively bred to grow extremely fast, and because their skeletons are not adapted to support their rapidly growing bodies, domestic turkeys are prone to lameness, deformities, and leg pain.
Keeping turkeys in such overcrowded factory conditions can cause them to injure each other with sharp beaks and toes. Growers usually address this by cutting off portions of turkeys’ beaks and toes with shears, a hot blade, or a high-voltage electrical current. These operations are performed on newly hatched baby turkeys, and without an anesthetic.
When they reach market weight, at about three to five months of age, turkeys are packed into crates and transported to slaughter. Due in part to the stress of transport, each year hundreds of thousands of turkeys die before they even reach the slaughterhouse. Turkeys that survive the trip are shackled upside down by their feet, and slaughtered while fully conscious.
Note: while there is a movement underway, mainly by boutique and smaller organic farmers, to implement ‘humane slaughter’. This somehow assumes that the animal does not mind giving up its life to be part of a meal.