TURKEY FACTS
Animal Agriculture — Myths & Facts

(Much of the following is excerpts from a booklet by the same name, copyright 1988, by the Animal Industry Foundation, http://www.animalagalliance.org, used with permission. Our additional notes are indicated in brackets.)
In an increasingly urban society, our contact with animals, especially farm animals, is limited. While man and animal depend on each other, our modern culture separates us from other species more and more. As a result, our understanding of the needs and roles of domestic animals becomes weaker, and in some cases, distorted.
One of the best strongholds of animal welfare in our culture is the farmer. With the exception of zoos and animal parks, only the farmer enjoys close, daily contact with animals. As farmers tend livestock and poultry, guaranteeing their health and welfare, the animal provides an economic return to the farmer in the form of wholesome, high quality foods valued by the vast majority of consumers.
The consuming public today is generally unaware of farmers’ relationship to their animals, and how meat, milk, and eggs are produced on modern farms. The average consumer may not make the connection between attractively packaged meat, milk, and eggs in the supermarket, and the process of getting these foods from the farm to the dinner table.
The image of the family farm with its red barn, a few chickens in the yard, some pigs in the mud, and cows in the field isn’t accurate anymore… Today, U.S. animal agriculture is a dynamic, specialized endeavor, the envy of the rest of the world. Only in America can 3% feed 100% of the population as efficiently as we do. The key to this efficiency? The best cared for livestock and poultry in the world.
Modern farm animal production is no accident. Improved animal housing, handling practices, and healthy, nutritious feeds are the result of billions of dollars of private and government research into how to raise healthy animals. And as American animal agriculture grows and changes, there is a double constant: Farmers’ concern for the welfare of the animal, and their dedication to providing the highest quality, safest food in the world…
This article will explain the inaccuracy of some of the commonly heard myths about modern animal agriculture, and give the general facts on how farmers and ranchers operate and why…
Myth
Fact
MYTH: Farm animals deserve the same rights as you or I. All creatures deserve to share the planet equally with man.
FACT: This is a belief held by some vegetarians and animal rights extremists, and is not accepted by the general population. There are theological, scientific, and philosophical arguments for why man cares for animals so they may serve him. Certainly, man has the moral obligation to avoid cruelty in dealing with all animals in all situations.
MYTH: Farmers care less for their animals than they do for the money animals bring them. Agribusiness corporations mislead farmers into using production systems and drugs that mean profits at the cost of animal welfare.
FACT: Farmers and ranchers are neither cruel nor naive. One of the main reasons someone goes into farming or ranching is a desire to work with animals. A farmer would compromise his or her own welfare if animals were mistreated. Agriculture is very competitive in the U.S., a career which pays the farmer a slim profit on the animals he cares for. It is in the farmer’s own best interest to see the animals in his charge treated humanely, guaranteeing him a healthy, high quality animal, a greater return on his investment, and a wholesome food product. No advertising campaign or salesman can convince a farmer to use a system or product that would harm an animal. Farmers are always looking for ways to improve their farms to ensure animal welfare and the economics of production…
MYTH: Farming in the U.S. is controlled by large corporations which care about profits and not about animal welfare.
FACT: Of the 2.2 million farms in the U.S., 87% are owned by an individual or a married couple responsible for operating the farm. If partnerships — typically a parent and one or more children or other close relatives — are added to this total, 97% of U.S. farms are family-owned and operated, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture… Even those farms which are legally corporations are generally family controlled, with USDA reporting only 7,000 non-family controlled corporate farms in the U.S.
MYTH: Farm animals are routinely raised on “factory farms,” confined in “crowded, unventilated cages and sheds.”

FACT: Animals are generally kept in barns and similar housing… to protect the health and welfare of the animal. Housing protects animals from predators, disease, and bad weather or extreme climate. Housing also makes breeding and birth less stressful, protects young animals, and makes it easier for farmers to care for both healthy and sick animals.

Modern housing is well ventilated, warm, well-lit, clean, and scientifically designed for the specific needs of the animal, such as the regular availability of fresh water and a nutritionally balanced feed…

[Norbest note: All Norbest turkeys are raised with safe and wholesome housing available to the turkeys. However, those marketed as Norbest "Free Range" turkeys are raised without constant confinement -- free to roam outdoors whenever they wish. The additional costs to the farmer of providing his turkeys with adequate care and protection using this method are reflected in somewhat higher retail costs for Norbest "Free Range" turkeys.]

MYTH: Farming in the U.S. is controlled by large corporations which care about profits and not about animal welfare.
FACT: Of the 2.2 million farms in the U.S., 87% are owned by an individual or a married couple responsible for operating the farm. If partnerships — typically a parent and one or more children or other close relatives — are added to this total, 97% of U.S. farms are family-owned and operated, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture… Even those farms which are legally corporations are generally family controlled, with USDA reporting only 7,000 non-family controlled corporate farms in the U.S.