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Myths About Turkeys

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Myths About Turkeys

Benjamin Franklin, who considered the turkey to be “more respectable” than the eagle, argued the turkey should be the treasured national bird. Somewhere down the line, the turkey took a fall in many American minds to become nothing but a standard meal. Over 280 million turkeys are killed each year for humans in the U.S. alone. Factory farms have altered domestic turkeys so much to meet consumer demand, that many people don’t even connect them with their wild cousins.

Myth: Turkeys are so dumb they look up in the rain and drown.

The rumor that turkeys are so dumb they will look up in the rain and drown is false. Contrary to common belief, animal researchers say turkeys are both intelligent and sociable animals. According to Farm Sanctuary, people tend to justify eating food-animals by saying they are dumb, and therefore less worthy of compassion.

Myth: Turkeys are too dumb to know how to reproduce on their own.

To meet the large consumer demand, commercial turkeys have been bred to be twice the size of what they would be in the wild. According to United Poultry Concerns, “If a 7-pound human baby grew as fast as baby turkeys are forced to grow, the human baby would weight 1500 pounds at 18 weeks old.” Because of their unnatural size, factory-farmed turkeys physically cannot reproduce naturally, so the industry relies on artificial insemination.

Myth: Turkeys can’t feel pain.

Turkeys raised in factory farms endure painful toe and beak mutilations. Since they typically live in an area that’s less than 3-square-feet, they endure psychological stress that leads them to attack other turkeys. To deter damage to other birds, their beaks and toes are burned off without anesthetic. In the wild, turkeys are social and nurturing beings.

Next: 3 ways to help a turkey

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Read more: Conscious Consumer, Food, Holidays, Life, Nature & Wildlife, Thanksgiving, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Megan Zehnder

Megan is an editor and producer for Care2's Healthy Living. Her main priorities are to live simply and build meaningful relationships with the people in her life. She loves to write and talk about environmental issues, healthy living, and women's rights. Beyond that, her interests change daily, but eating and cooking vegetarian food is always a favorite.

182 comments

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4:53PM PST on Nov 23, 2012

Poor turkeys!

4:02PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

oted with thanks.

2:07PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

noted

12:48AM PST on Jan 2, 2012

Wonder what else was proposed as the national bird.

7:49PM PST on Dec 8, 2011

factory farms are disgusting! I feel bad for the turkeys. They should be able to live a good life and they should be able to walk around and have some freedom, not just stuck behind bars where they can't even turn around :(

12:27PM PST on Dec 5, 2011

The other week Nature on PBS. Had a show on Turkeys. This man hatched them and stayed with them for 1 1/2 years untill the last and domant Tom fought him and left. From chichs they knew acatly what to do and which snaks wer dangerous. He named them and stayed with them but did not interfer with them when others came to kill. They exsammed death. On there own will brgan to perch, and then eventaly leave. SweetPee was killed defending her nest. whil Tom boy came back and stayed wih him for some more time. Untill the day he decided to fight for premmessy and lost with one strong blow. Though he had fought the man well. The man siad he would't see Turkeys the same again. now nither would I. There'r not stupped at allbut verry smart.

10:39PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

I still say factory farms should be banned. Made illegal. If you can't have natural, organic, free range turkeys that are of normal proportions, then you shouldn't be a turkey farmer. Farming is NOT a corporate greed business. If you can't treat living beings with dignity in a humane way, then you don't deserve your job.

7:12AM PST on Nov 30, 2011

there is no such thing as humane slaughter. what makes humans unique is our ability to choose and change. we don't need to kill to survive. that some continue to do so is sad.

7:41PM PST on Nov 29, 2011

Sounds like someone had an ax to grind with Franklin's idea... it seems almost spiteful.

7:36PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

Really important points, and I definitely think the way we farm needs to change. Personally, I don't think I could be vegetarian, and I have some questions as to whether or not we really should be. I have a lot of respect for vegetarians and vegans, but I don't think that's the only solution. The conditions farm animals live in are awful, but I have recently discovered Rowe Farms ( http://www.rowefarms.ca/ ), which sells meat that is raised in good conditions, and is a great alternative for people who want to eat meat, but also want to be humane about it.
I think it's also important to remember that killing animals is not a human thing that demonstrates how awful we are. We are animals, and we are omnivores, and just like other omnivores, we kill animals to eat them. The torture before-hand is the awful part, and that's the part that we have to do something about.

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