In 2013, a COK undercover investigator worked inside Hargin, Inc., a turkey breeding factory farm in Pope County, Minnesota, the top turkey-producing state in the US. At Hargin, an estimated 25,000 female turkeys are locked inside massive sheds, forced to live in cruel and filthy conditions.
Turkeys raised on factory farms are bred to grow obese so quickly, they can no longer mate naturally. Instead, they’re artificially inseminated – as shown in our video, this is a violent and frightening process that involves grabbing hens by their legs, shackling them upside down, and using a plastic tube to inseminate them.
These hens will spend their lives being artificially inseminated over and over again to continually lay eggs that will hatch young turkeys to be raised and slaughtered for food, including Thanksgiving dinners.
Some of the eggs from this facility will be sold to Minnesota-based Willmar Poultry, the nation’s largest turkey hatchery previously exposed for inhumane treatment of newly-hatched birds.
At Hargin, metal and plastic nesting machines are used to collect eggs, and our video shows hens getting entangled in the dilapidated and poorly maintained equipment. In an effort to free themselves, birds who get stuck by their wings, head, or feet, often endure severe injuries — sometimes so severe they’re unable to survive.
To make matters worse, the squalid, cramped conditions cause many hens to suffer from various ailments,such as severe irritations covering their heads and faces. As is standard in the industry, sick and injured birds are typically left to suffer without veterinary care.
Turkeys and the Turkey Industry
Turkeys are smart, social and inquisitive birds with unique personalities. They’re devoted mothers who, given the opportunity, are inseparable from their babies. At breeding factories like Hargin, however, these hens will never get a chance to even see their young.
Sadly, during the holiday season alone, more than 45 million turkeys will be killed for their meat. Treated as little more than mere meat-producing machines from the moment they hatch, the vast majority of these intelligent birds spend their entire lives intensively confined inside massive sheds and will never set foot outside. Unfortunately for these birds, there are no federal laws in the United States protecting turkeys (or other birds raised for food) from such cruelty.
The good news is that according to the US Dept. of Agriculture, turkey production in 2013 is projected to drop 5% compared to 2012 — and that would bring it to its lowest point in 10 years.
“Our hidden-camera footage uncovers the egregious and systemic horrors Tyson allows its birds to endure behind closed doors. It’s time for Tyson to be a true leader by tackling the most pressing issues in its industry today by immediately ending the genetic manipulation of birds for rapid growth and expanding its investment in the consumer-driven future of food: plant-based proteins.”
Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing
Hargin Investigation Photos
The Curiosity, Intelligence and Personality of Turkeys
Benjamin Franklin referred to turkeys as “birds of courage” – and believed that they should be named the national bird of the United States instead of the bald eagle.
Perhaps he admired their intelligence, beauty, or resourcefulness. Unfortunately, due to societal norms in the way most Americans are raised, these characteristics are unknown to most people today who often view these individuals as simply the center of their holiday feast.
Anyone who has the opportunity to meet these animals at sanctuaries will tell you that they are highly intelligent animals who, just like the dogs and cats in our homes, are playful individuals with unique personalities. They also form strong social bonds and show affection towards one another. As mothers, they are incredibly devoted and highly protective.
Did you know?
- Turkeys can recognize each other by their voices. In fact, more than 20 unique vocalizations have been identified in wild turkeys.
- Turkeys are incredibly curious animals who enjoy exploring.
- Turkeys can remember the geographic content of an area larger than 1,000 acres.
- Wild turkeys can also fly 55 miles an hour and run 18 miles an hour.
Sadly, turkeys raised on today’s factory farms aren’t nearly as agile — they’ve been bred to grow abnormally large. In the 1960s, it took 220 days to raise a 35-pound turkey. Due to selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs, it now takes only 132 days. Such fast growth causes them to suffer from a number of chronic health problems.
Turkeys are gentle creatures who enjoy socializing with human companions and protecting other turkeys with whom they’ve bonded. This holiday season, let’s give turkeys something to be thankful for by leaving them, and all animals, off our plates. Visit VegRecipes.org for FREE and easy cruelty-free Thanksgiving recipes.
Take Action for Turkeys: Choose Compassion over Animal Cruelty
This holiday season, millions of families will gather together around the dinner table — with food as the center focus.
Thanksgiving tradition is about celebrating life — and a growing number of Americans are choosing to do so by serving delicious vegetarian fare that everyone, including the turkeys, can be thankful for.
Feast on This!
- Tofurky Feast: This popular option includes a stuffed roast with gravy and even comes with dessert.
- Field Roast Holiday Roast: This gourmet roast is a rich and savory sausage-style stuffing made from Field Roast grain meat, fresh cut butternut squash, mushrooms and granny smith apples seasoned with a blend of rosemary, thyme and sage.
- Gardein Holiday Roast: This roast is filled with cranberry wild rice stuffing and comes with gravy.
- Savory Stuffing Recipe: This vegan stuffing recipe makes a perfect savory complement to a vegan roast.
- Chicken-free Gravy: Add more flavor to your meal with this gravy sauce. Can be poured over your Tofurky or mashed potatoes.
- Egg-free Egg Nog: A flavorful and spirited holiday drink.
- Chocolate Truffles: Delicious chocolate morsels — great for setting out at holiday parties.
- Pumpkin Pie: A Thanksgiving favorite, tofu gives this pumpkin pie recipe its creamy texture — but guests won’t know there’s tofu in it.