On November 23, the New Hampshire Animal Rights League saved two turkeys at Charmingfare Farm from being slaughtered for Thanksgiving.
Back in October, a NHARL board member “reserved” a turkey at Charmingfare Farm. When Thanksgiving approached, there was form to complete, and customers were asked to enter the size turkey they wanted. The NHARL board member entered “0 lbs,” and included a note. She said that she’d had a “change of heart,” and asked if she could take her turkey home as a pet.
To their credit, Charmingfare Farm was willing to do it.
“We’ve never had a request like this before,” said the owner of Charmingfare Farm.
NHARL asked for two turkeys, so they would have companionship.
On pick-up day, NHARL waited in line along with all the people picking up dead birds. We conversed loudly about how excited we were to be taking our turkey home alive.
When we got to the counter, we thanked the owner and continued to draw attention to ourselves. We joked that since the Governor had not pardoned a turkey this year, we were pardoning two.
As we were led out to the barn, we heard someone in line say, “Good job,” and another remark, “Now I feel bad.”
The spared turkeys were waiting for us in a crate, right alongside folding tables lined with the bodies of their flockmates.
Our vehicle was strategically parked near the front door, so that when the turkeys were loaded in, it would happen in view of customers coming and going.
A curious little girl, headed to the car with her mother, wanted to see the live turkeys. We invited her to touch the turkey’s soft tail feathers. She was worried about where they were going. “We’re taking these turkeys to a sanctuary,” we said, “so they don’t have to die.”
Her mother looked on with a big smile, despite holding a shopping bag containing a dead bird.
Although Charmingfare Farm shows photos of heritage breed turkeys on their web site, the ones they sell at Thanksgiving are large-breed, “Broad-Breasted White” turkeys (referred to as “Industry” or “Commercial Turkeys”).
The plight of such turkeys includes being bred not for fitness and health, but for fast growth. Rapid growth contributes to a range of devastating health problems, especially leg and joint problems and heart failure. These turkeys aren’t designed for longevity and thus require specialized care. (The Open Sanctury Project is an excellent resource for animal care.)
The rescued turkeys are staying with a friend of NHARL’s for the near future but may go to a sanctuary if it is determined that this would be a better home.