Those who don’t know a snood from a wattle (the flap of skin under the turkey’s chin) are sure to be intrigued by the following little-known turkey facts:
Turkeys recognize each other by their unique voices.
Researchers have identified more than 20 distinct vocalizations in wild turkeys.
Turkeys have excellent geography skills and can learn the specific details of an area of more than 1,000 acres.
Like cats and dogs, turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals who form strong social bonds and show great affection to others.
On factory farms, turkeys frequently have the ends of their beaks and toes cut off without anesthesia — practices know as debeaking and detoeing — to prevent them from injuring one another as they are crowded by the thousands into dark, filthy warehouses.
Between 1965 and 2000, the weight of the average turkey raised commercially in the U.S. increased by 57 percent, from an average of 18 pounds to an average of 28.2 pounds, causing commercially-bred turkeys to suffer from crippling foot and leg problems.
Completely unlike their wild ancestors not only in terms of physique but also in hue, most commercial turkeys are totally white — the natural bronze color selectively bred out of them to eliminate uneven pigment colorations — because of consumer preference for even flesh tones.
Turkeys, along with other poultry, are not protected by the federal Humane Slaughter Act, and are frequently killed without first being stunned.
Every year, more than 46 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving holiday dinners, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you think these birds are as incredible as we do, you can join talk show host and animal advocate Ellen DeGeneres, Farm Sanctuary’s 2010 Adopt-A-Turkey Project spokesperson, in starting a new tradition this year by adopting a turkey instead of eating. Visit adoptaturkey.org for details or call the Turkey Adoption Hotline at 1-888-SPONSOR.
To learn more about these fascinating birds, be sure to check out the new Turkey Talk episode of Farm Sanctuary’s Reel Life at Farm Sanctuary video series. In this short, entertaining video, National Shelter Director Susie Coston introduces viewers to some special birds in the organization’s New York Shelter flock and talks a whole lot of turkey!