It’s that time of year again when turkeys are back in the spotlight.
Unfortunately, this year 9 million turkeys were slaughtered in the UK – the vast majority to be served on Christmas Day dinner plates.
As we know, turkeys are sensitive, intelligent animals who deserve compassion and respect.
To celebrate these wonderful, unique animals we thought we’d give you a run down of fascinating facts that you may not know about turkeys.
The colour of a male turkey’s head and throat will change depending on his mood. When he is excited, his head will turn blue. When he is feeling stressed, his head will turn bright red. The colour may shift and change many times throughout the day as he feels various levels of stress and relaxation, sometimes within seconds!
Only males make a gobbling sound, and they do so to attract females during mating season. Both male and female turkeys are very vocal though. They make a variety of sounds, including gobbles, purrs, yelps, and clucks and can recognise each other by their voices. More than 20 unique vocalisations have been identified in free-living turkeys.
Sadly, turkeys who are farmed, are too large to breed naturally, so semen is collected from male turkeys and artificially inseminated into female hens in a distressing procedure.
Free-living turkeys can not only fly but reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour! However, turkeys who are farmed have been selectively bred to produce the maximum amount of ‘meat’ for humans and therefore are too heavy to be able to fly like their free-living cousins.
Their eyes are three times more sensitive to light than human eyes, and they have a 270-degree field of vision. This incredible vision is able to detect motion many yards away. They are able to see UVA light which helps them when they are detecting prey, selecting a mate and foraging for food.
Although they lack 3D vision, they use a series of head bobbing movements, similar to pigeons. These quick head movements allow their eyes to gather information about depths and distances of objects around them.
Turkeys form strong social bonds and show affection towards one another and to human caregivers. They enjoy being stroked and cuddled and will often follow their human caregivers around a sanctuary just like dogs.
In the wild, they live in flocks of up to 100 turkeys, called "rafters" and forage together in small groups over distances of up to 500 acres!
Free-living mother turkeys will raise their chicks for five months and fiercely protect them from danger. Male siblings from the brood will go on to form lifelong social units.
Sadly for the millions of turkeys farmed in the UK, they will never get to express many of the natural behaviours just described, as they’ll spend the majority of their short lives in crowded sheds, suffering from injuries such as broken legs and wings due their unnaturally fast growth rate.
Want to help us spread the message that turkeys deserve compassion this Christmas?
You can door drop our ‘Be their Christmas miracle’ leaflets in your local area! You never know how many people you might convince to leave turkeys off their plate and go vegan this Christmas.
Order our turkey leaflets and spread some joy this Christmas.
For the animals.