Today's turkeys are monstrous super birds, more than twice as big as in 1929


Are you supporting inhumane factory farming this Thanksgiving?

"The vast majority of turkeys are still being raised in conventional farms in crowded warehouses with barely enough room to move," says Daisy Freund, director of ASPCA's farm welfare program.

What's more, most turkeys grow dangerously fast and large, with breasts so big they can't copulate and may have trouble walking or breathing.

"They weighed 13 pounds in the 1930s and they weigh more than 30 pounds today, so that's really a different animal growing on largely the same skeletal structure and suffering as a result," Freund says.

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The US turkey industry has increased bird weight dramatically through careful breeding and nutrition science.

The following image from an NC State study shows a typical modern breed next to a typical breed from 1966 at 6 weeks old—where the modern breed weighs about twice as much:

66 vs now turkeys
66 vs now turkeys

Here's a chart of turkey growth since 1929:

turkey growth since 29
turkey growth since 29

America is actually making progress on farm animal welfare, according to the ASPCA, with a rise in welfare certifications, a decline in caged animals, and more attention to crowding of chicken.

With turkeys, "there are a small number of higher welfare pasture- or welfare-certified turkey products, and we see an increased interest in that pasture heritage," Freund says. Still, "the turkey industry has not had a huge amount of movement."

If you want to buy humane turkeys, ASPCA says you should watch out for deceptive labels and look for Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership (step 2 and above), and Animal Welfare Approved.

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