For most people today, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other special holidays would not feel accomplished without a plate of turkey being served on the table.
Turkeys are available all over the supermarkets today, and it is said to be recognized as one of the leanest of all poultry meat that is being consumed globally. This is as a result of the intensive caregiving to turkey farming globally. Millions of turkeys are killed and eaten all year round.
What does turkey farming mean?
Before we hand on to the questions: how are turkeys slaughtered in a factory farm? Let me make a quick elaboration on what turkey farming is.
Turkey farming is the type of farm practice that involves the raising and slaughtering of farmed turkeys for human consumption. As early as 100 BC in Mesoamerica, turkeys are being domesticated and then export to the part of Europe during the 16th century.
One big difference between modern domesticated turkeys and turkeys in the wild is that the modern domesticated turkeys grow larger and gain weight more quickly. Domesticated turkeys are farmed mainly for their meat and not for the egg, unlike chickens.
The United States followed by Germany, France, Brazil, and Italy are the world's top producers of turkey in a much wider range. As of 2019, in the United States, Minnesota, Virginia, Arkansas, and Indiana accounted for more than half of the turkeys being slaughtered.
Most turkeys were produced under then intensive care farming methods, and $4.30 billion is the value of turkeys produced in the United States as of 2019.
Turkey Farming Proven Statistics
In the same year, the number of turkeys raised higher to 229 million on about 2,500 turkey farms slaughtered for meat.
How are turkeys farmed?
There are only four stages involves when it comes to the commercial farming of turkeys :
Both male and female turkeys that are intended for breeding purposes are usually raised separately until they are around 28 weeks old when they will be due formatting.
For 6 - 7 months, breeding female turkeys lay up to 100 - 130 eggs until their productivity diminished. This egg will then be transported to commercial hatcheries where they will be placed inside the incubators.
After the hatching, male and female turkeys that are intended for consumption purposes will be separated and transferred into a rearing house that is made specifically for breeding purposes. Turkey eggs are being hatched within 28 days.
When they have reached 4 - 6 weeks in the rearing house, they will be moved to the finishing barns, where they will stay until they are mature enough for slaughter.
Before turkeys are considered ready for slaughter, they would have to reach 14 to 16 weeks old, while the male turkeys are considered ready for slaughter at about 19 weeks old.
Photo by Kranthi Remala
How Is Turkey Butchering In The Factory Farm? A Step-By-Step Guide
Procedures For butchering Turkey
• A large size of killing cone
• Buckets for blood collection
• Water sprayer for rinsing
• Poultry shears
• Turkey fryer
• Steel table
• Heat shrink bags
Before turkeys are being butchered, food is usually withheld for the night before the slaughtering day as this will make the crop empty, and hence the turkey will be much easier to clean and less messy.
On the slaughtering day, tables are being set up serving two purposes; one is used for plucking while the other for eviscerating, which is also the removal of the internal organs.
30 minutes before the slaughtering begins, the turkey fryer is filled with water and heated. The water will be heated to about 150 degrees F for it to properly scald the turkeys for plucking.
Dispatching of the turkeys
Special killing cones are normally used in this process which is also a more humane way of slaughtering as the cone shape keeps the turkeys from flopping around.
The turkeys are placed upside down where they are sedated. After the cut is made, the blood is collected into a bucket which usually takes few minutes before moving on to the next step.
Scalding the turkeys
Scalding of turkey to soften the feather with warm water
In other to speed up the plucking process, the turkeys are being scalded first, this also helps the feather much easier to pluck out.
The feathers were known if they are ready to pluck when the tail once pulled the feathers comes off easily. Also, care is being taken so as not to over scalding the turkeys, which may cause the skin to tear off.
When the turkeys have been scalded well, the next step is plucking. This is where the turkeys are placed on a table and the feathers plucked
out until there are no more feathers left. You can get a durable and movable turkey plucker machine
here at Amazon.
Eviscerating and cleaning
After the plucking has been properly made, the turkeys are rinsed with cool water. The head and the legs are cut off with poultry shears or knives. The oil gland at the back end of the turkeys is trimmed off.
A slice is made with a knife above the breastbone that is at the base of the neck and the esophagus pulled out while the windpipe and crop are separated.
The turkeys are stilled laid down on their back while the carcass is torn open and the fat removed from the gizzard. The internal organs are also removed this way.
After eviscerating and cleaning, the turkeys are chilled. This is done by placing the cleaned turkeys into a cooler filled with ice water or a fridge. Once they are properly chilled, heat shrink bags or freezer wrap are used to cover them while they are taken back into the freezer.
Photo by Ashish Sharma from Pexel
How Many Turkeys Are Killed For Thanksgiving?
The United States Poultry & Egg Association in 2011 estimated that 46 million turkeys are being eaten by the Americans at Thanksgiving, 22 million are eaten on Christmas, while 19 million are eaten at Easter.
An analysis that was made in 2015 concluded that about 37 million turkeys are killed in the United States for Thanksgiving annually. In 2019, $643 million was spent by Americans on turkey in total.
Are Turkeys Raised Humanely?
Turkey farms have been encouraged by the Humane Society of the United States through a global campaign for turkey farms to pledge to raising healthier and less bloated birds, ensuring they are being provided with better living conditions.
Do turkeys sleep in trees at night?
Do You Know?
- Wild turkeys at night do roost in the low branches of trees.
- Turkeys are usually born with a full-color vision.
- Wild turkeys can live up to 12 years.
In conclusion, the modern farming of turkey ensures that turkeys are a farm in a semi-natural system, giving enough space for exercise for proper development.
However, the factory slaughtering ensures that turkeys are properly dispatched avoiding inhumane butchering through a properly controlled system.
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