Assigning defined daily/course doses for antimicrobials in turkeys to enable a cross-country quantification and comparison of antimicrobial use

This study presents a list of DDDturkey (Defined Daily Dose) and DCDturkey (Defined Course Doses) to allow for a species-specific, on farm quantification of AMU (antimicrobial usage) on European turkey farms. Assigning DDDturkey has shown the need for a unified European antimicrobial drug portfolio and harmonization of recommended doses across the SPCs of similar antimicrobial products authorized for use  in turkeys, at the least when treating identical diseases.

To read the full article, click here.

Comparing various euthanasia devices and methods on 8 and 12-week-old turkey hens

On-farm euthanasia of poultry is a necessity for minimizing disease spread and removing sick or injured birds to maintain optimum animal welfare. There are numerous methods that are approved for euthanasia of poultry; however, all approved methods are not easily carried out on-farm or as effective as one another.

Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare several captive bolt devices (Turkey Euthanasia Device, Zephyr-EXL, Jarvis Stunner, Experimental Crossbow), mechanical cervical dislocation (Broomstick method [BRM] and Koechner Euthanasia Device [KED]), and manual cervical dislocation (MAN) methods on 8 and 12-week-old turkey hens. Each method was assessed for impact on loss of brain stem reflexes, euthanasia success, and torn skin.

To read the full article, click here.

Turkey Farming: How Intensive Breeding Is Transforming the Industry

For most Americans, Thanksgiving would not feel complete without a roast turkey on the dinner table. Legend has it that turkey was served at the First Thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony in 1621, and the Thanksgiving tradition of presenting turkeys to the U.S. president dates back to 1947. Eating turkey is considered an American tradition, but how turkeys become food is much less glamorous.

Turkeys available at supermarkets today are the result of intensive farming. Selective breeding and commercial farming techniques have altered the appearance and damaged the general quality of life for turkeys. Commercial turkeys have little in common with the wild turkeys of 1621 or even the domesticated turkeys of 1947. Today, millions of turkeys around the globe are bred, killed, and eaten every year.

What Is Turkey Farming?

Turkey farming is the practice of raising and slaughtering turkeys for meat. Domesticated turkeys are descended from Meleagris gallopavo, a subspecies of wild turkeys indigenous to parts of Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Turkeys were domesticated as early as 100 BCE in Mesoamerica and exported to Europe during the 16th century. But modern domesticated turkeys differ from wild turkeys in one big way: they are bred to gain weight quickly. And unlike chickens, domesticated turkeys are only farmed for meat and not for eggs.

The world’s top turkey producing country is the United States, followed by Brazil, Germany, France, and Italy. In the U.S., four states—Arkansas, Minnesota, Virginia, and Indiana—accounted for more than half of all turkeys slaughtered in 2019. The turkey industry itself is incredibly lucrative. The value of all turkeys produced in the U.S. during 2019 was $4.30 billion, and most turkeys were produced using intensive farming techniques. Only 3 percent of turkey meat revenue—$139 million—was generated by farms certified as organic.


5 Things I Learned About Turkey Farms

By Heather Barnes
Original date: 11/20/2018

This summer, I had the chance to visit a turkey farm in eastern North Carolina. I’ve worked in agriculture for almost 20 years, but this was my first visit to a turkey farm.The farm has been in the farmer’s family since 1919. Where turkey houses now stand, tobacco once grew. Six years ago, he started growing turkeys under contract with Butterball.I took 15 pages of notes, so choosing only five things to highlight wasn’t easy, but here they are.

Turkeys are not naturally vegetarians.

Like me, you may have seen the label “vegetarian fed” on packages of turkey at the grocery store. It turns out, turkeys are not vegetarians, but omnivores. Turkeys raised on pasture and wild turkeys eat bugs and worms in additional to grass and other vegetation. However, consumer demand for “vegetarian fed” has led companies to add a vegetarian diet option to their feeding program to accommodate what the customer wants while meeting the turkeys’s nutritional needs. Certain flocks (a group of turkeys) are not fed any meat or meat by-products, despite that being what Mother Nature intended them to eat, so they can have “vegetarian fed” on the label.


Turkey Feed


The feed will change approximately 10 times over the course of a turkey’s life to meet its nutritional needs. Turkeys have their own nutritionist, a Butterball employee, who monitors their feed and creates the recipes for each stage of life. Their diet includes vitamins and probiotics. As the nutritionist told us, “Nothing we put in turkey feed can’t be put in my mouth.”

Raising turkeys is a 365-day job, and not just for the farmer.

The farmer told us he comes out to the barns on Christmas morning just like any other day. He can’t leave for a weekend at the beach when he has turkeys on the farm. Every day, the farmer walks through each turkey house at least twice. Each barn has its own set of computers monitoring everything from temperature to feed. A backup system kicks in if the main system fails. His cell phone will get an alert if something is wrong at one of the turkey houses, day or night.

It’s not just the farmer who’s on call. The company veterinarian recalled getting a call about sick turkeys one Sunday morning. He was at the farm later that day to check the turkeys.

Turkeys need a prescription.

No antibiotics are stored on the farm. If a farmer is concerned about one turkey or the entire flock, he contacts his farm’s service technician or the company veterinarian. If treatment is required, the veterinarian writes a prescription, which is sent to the warehouse to be dispersed.

If the entire flock needs treatment, an antibiotic can be added to the water or feed. Strict withdrawal times are observed to make sure the medicine has worked through the turkey’s system before it is sent for processing.

Butterball has a diagnostic lab, which performs autopsies (called a necropsy) on animals that died on the farm to determine cause of death. This information will help the veterinarian decide what course of action, if any, is needed to ensure the remaining turkey’s health.

Just for the record, the only hormones in turkey are the ones they naturally have. In fact, it is illegal to give turkeys, chickens, or other poultry added hormones or steroids.

Young turkeys lose baby feathers.


Turkey Close-up


The turkeys we saw had been on the farm less than a week. When the veterinarian picked one up, I noticed a few spots on it’s body without feathers. I asked about it and learned when turkeys first hatch they have down, or soft, fluffy baby feathers. Turkeys will naturally lose their baby feathers and grow adult feathers. It reminded me of my son losing his baby teeth.

I was also surprised to learn turkeys don’t have feathers on 100% of their body; some areas are naturally featherless.

Turkeys like each other. They really like each other.

Have you seen photos of a turkey house and all the birds are huddled together? You may have thought they were standing close because they didn’t have room to spread out. You’d be wrong.


Turkey House Space


When we walked into the turkey house, I was taken aback by how spacious it is. If you’ve ever walked onto a football field, have you noticed how long it is? The playing field is 100 yards, or 300 feet. This turkey house was twice that; it was 600 feet long. There was a lot of open space, yet the turkeys were all in the same general area. Turns out, turkeys are sociable birds and like to be around each other. Given the choice, they will stick together.

The turkeys gathered around us and moved as a group while we walked through the turkey house. We walked through the middle of the flock, which was like the parting of the Red Sea, but they soon gathered together again. Once they decided we weren’t interesting anymore, they moved away and went back to doing turkey things. The farmer called it “popcorning”, I just called it happy turkeys.


Staying warm in the upland southwest: A “supply side” view of turkey feather blanket production


  • Turkey feather blankets were made by Ancestral Puebloans in the US Southwest.
  • Feather blankets and domestic turkeys both appear in early centuries C.E.
  • Feathers were wrapped on a plant fiber cord framework.
  • A 1.1 m2 blanket used ca. 11,500 feathers from 4 to 10 turkeys and 180 m of cord.
  • Sustainable feather supply was likely ensured by collecting feathers from live birds.


By the very early C.E. in the U.S. Upland Southwest, blankets or robes relying on turkey feathers as the insulating medium began to replace those made with strips of rabbit fur. Feather blankets would have been important possessions of most members of Ancestral Pueblo communities. Analysis of a 99 X 108 cm feather blanket dating approximately to the 1200s C.E. indicates it required over 180 m of yucca fiber cordage and an estimated 11,550 body feathers. Counts of suitable body feathers from two adult male wild turkey pelts indicated that the prehistoric blanket would have required feathers from 4 to 10 turkeys, depending on the range of feather lengths selected. Blanket feathers were probably most frequently collected from live birds, although natural molts or recently killed birds may have contributed. Further research on the manufacture and use of feather blankets is warranted in the context of their important roles in Ancestral Pueblo material culture and turkey husbandry.

William D. Lipe, Shannon Tushingham, Eric Blinman, Laurie Webster, Charles T. LaRue, Aimee Oliver-Bozeman, Jonathan Till


A Beginner’s Guide to Turkey Farming

Turkey farming is the process of raising turkeys for the purpose of producing meat or eggs for food or money. Turkey, chicken, guinea fowl, duck and quail are all domestic birds that nutritionally and economically contribute to any country.

Turkeys are kept or reared for meat purposes. Their meat is recognized as the leanest of all poultry species. Additionally, they are consumed by almost every country across the globe. Turkey farming is popular in countries like the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, UK and Netherlands. This post is a beginner guide for those who want to start turkey farming.

The scientific name of Turkey is Meleagris gallopavo, and it is a large gallinaceous bird which is a native of North America but domesticated in Europe. The breeds of turkey include:

  • Beltsville Small White
  • Black Turkey
  • Blue Slate Turkey
  • Bourbon Reds Turkey
  •  Broad Breasted White Turkey
  • Midget White Turkey
  • Narragansett Turkey
  • Standard Bronze Turkey
  • Royal Palm Turkey
  • White Holland Turkey

Terminologies in Turkey Farming

  • Tom: Matured male turkey
  • Hen: Matured female turkey
  • Poult: Very young turkey
  • Snood or Dew bill: Fleshy protuberance close to the base of the beck
  • Caruncles: Fleshy protuberance on a turkey’s head and neck. It is usually red or pink in color.
  • Dewlap: Large flap skin seen immediately below the chim
  • Beard: Tuft of hair attached located in the upper chest region
  • Strut: Male turkey’s mating behavior

Other important information about turkeys are described as follows:

  • De-beaking. This is the reduction of the beak’s length in order to prevent cannibalism and feather picking. It is carried out at 4-5 weeks of age. While debeaking, the tool must be very hot and should not be too close to the nostrils.
  • De-snooding. This is the removal of the snood or dewbill in order to prevent the head from getting injured while fighting or picking. By pressing the snood at a day old using the thumbnail or finger would remove it. A sharp scissor can be used to cut off the snood when the poult is 3 weeks old.
  • De-toeing or toe clipping. This is the removal of the toenail and it is usually done at day old.