The turkeys, booked into suites on the Willard Lodge in Washington earlier than a go to to the White Home the place President Biden pardoned them from being a Thanksgiving dinner, live the fantasy. (The birds, Liberty and Bell, will spend the remainder of their lives on the College of Minnesota’s Faculty of Meals, Agricultural and Pure Useful resource Sciences in St. Paul.) Just a few different fortunate birds will probably be adopted by animal welfare advocates this time of 12 months.
Uncommon is the turkey that has something however a depressing life earlier than it results in a market. A lot of the estimated 46 million turkeys that will probably be offered round Thanksgiving spend their 14 to twenty weeks of life in a sunless barn the place they develop unnaturally giant, creating overcrowded circumstances with no exercise past consuming and pecking one another – though many have had their beaks painfully trimmed.
Earlier than slaughter, the birds – fluttering and writhing – are chained the other way up by the legs and dunked in electrified water. It ought to go away them unconscious, however typically it does not. Then, unconscious or not, they’re killed by mechanical throat-cutting knives. This apply has been extensively reported.
Solely poultry is handled so cruelly. Manufacturing unit-farmed turkeys (and broilers) wouldn’t have even the fundamental public welfare requirements of life and demise that different meals animals have, as a result of poultry isn’t lined by the Humane Strategies of Slaughter Act, which is enforced by the USA Division of Agriculture. It appears ridiculous, however thus far there was no political will to vary the regulation, say animal welfare campaigners.
Nonetheless, turkey suppliers and grocery shops can strain farms to enhance these circumstances. And we should always demand that they do.
More and more, Turkey suppliers are switching to what’s known as “managed ambiance beautiful” to kill the birds. The animals are taken in crates out of their pens and go straight to rooms in a slaughterhouse, the place they’re regularly sedated with gasoline that places them to sleep and finally kills them. They by no means go away the crates within the course of and should not chained alive. Employees additionally favor this technique as a result of they don’t have to deal with heavy stay birds that flutter and resist.
No less than 4 of the highest 10 turkey sellers — Perdue, Tyson, Jenny-O Turkey Retailer and Butterball — say they use the controlled-atmosphere beautiful process.
It is a good begin. All turkey suppliers ought to use gasoline beautiful for all their operations. As well as, the circumstances in barns for turkeys ought to be inspected. Birds should have area to roam within the barns and enrichment objects – equivalent to perches or hay bales to peck at – they usually should be allowed to go outdoors in daylight.
Shoppers seeking to purchase turkeys which were humanely raised and slaughtered should concentrate on welfare labels, which could be complicated. The ASPCA has a information to labels. However turkey producers and shops use totally different labels on their merchandise, and a few are stricter than others.
Butterball says it follows US Humane Licensed requirements. However that certification does not set minimal indoor areas or insist on higher dwelling circumstances for the birds — and it permits routine and painful beak trimming and toe clipping, in accordance with senior Hillary Dalton analysis supervisor on the non-profit animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming.
Dalton suggests individuals search for the World Animal Partnership, Licensed Humane and Animal Welfare Authorised stamps of approval.
Additionally, search for turkeys from small farms which have raised the turkeys outdoors on grass. However only some of those farms can afford to entry the gassing course of. These farms typically stun their animals with an electrified knife after which minimize their throats. It is a trade-off: Would you slightly purchase a turkey that lived a extra pure life on a farm, or one which lived in a merciless manufacturing unit farm however had a neater demise?
After all, we might eat much less turkey, which would scale back the demand for these animals. If American shoppers are going to eat turkey on Thanksgiving and different days, the least we are able to do is insist on higher circumstances for these birds. The truth that thousands and thousands of turkeys are raised for meals doesn’t imply they should be subjected to inhumane circumstances earlier than they find yourself on our tables.