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How are turkeys housed?

Turkeys raised for meat do not live in cages. They are raised in specially designed barns with carefully controlled ventilation and temperature to make sure the birds are warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer. The barns also offer protection from predators, disease and bad weather. Some may be grown in semi-controlled housing or on range.


What do turkeys eat?

Turkeys are fed nutritionally balanced diets of mixed grains and oilseeds, which typically include corn, soya, wheat, barley and canola, for healthy growth and development. There may be a small percentage (6 to 8 percent) of animal by-products included in the feed, which helps to ensure that there is enough protein, energy (calories), minerals and fat to meet a turkey’s nutritional requirements.

Feed is often adjusted to match the growth stages of the birds. Young turkeys (poults) are fed a “starter” mixture. As they grow, the feed is changed to meet nutritional requirements. Each type of feed includes the proper balance of protein, energy, fibre, fat and other elements such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins.

Turkeys have free access to feed 24 hours a day, which means they can help themselves to food or water at any time.


Are turkeys given hormones or steroids?

 In Canada, turkeys are NOT given hormones or steroids. These have been prohibited for over 30 years. It is scientific advancements such as selective breeding, better feed formulation and modern management practices that are responsible for the larger, healthier turkeys produced today.


Are turkeys given antibiotics?

Keeping animals healthy is a top priority for farmers and veterinarians. A serious health problem can wipe out a farm’s or even a whole industry’s animals, in addition to causing other animals to suffer. Prevention is always preferred over treatment.

Turkeys, like any other living creatures, can sometimes become sick. Medication, approved by Health Canada, is given only when necessary to prevent and treat infections, and is administered under the supervision of a veterinarian. If medication must be used to care for sick birds, a withdrawal period is required before any bird can be marketed.

The farmer is responsible for documentation from the first day of medication use until the last day of use. He or she must also sign a record stating that the correct withdrawal time has taken place and report this to the processor.


Can I catch avian flu from eating turkey?

No. As always, follow safe food handling practices and cook poultry meats thoroughly. It is worthwhile knowing that there are no known cases anywhere of someone getting Avian Influenza from eating turkey.

While the risk of a large-scale disease outbreak is very low, it’s important that poultry farmers continue to work with public health experts to do everything possible to prevent such an occurrence.


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