Last updated 28 September 2020

Hens are commonly sent to slaughter at 10 weeks of age weighing around 5kg, their bodies primarily used for ‘whole bird’ market. Toms are typically sent to slaughter at approximately 17 weeks of age weighing between 16kg and 18kg, their bodies used mostly used for ‘breast yield’ and ‘meat portions’.

The most common method of slaughter for turkeys in Australia is by electrical stunning and decapitation. Another common method is the use of bleeding cones.

Transport and rough handling:

Several investigations have revealed the inherently rough nature in which turkeys are handled when being crated for slaughter. Turkeys are commonly caught by their legs and carried upside down to be loaded into crates to be transported to slaughter. 

Many turkeys suffer broken or fractured bones during the loading/unloading process due to rough handling. Turkeys being transported from farm to slaughterhouse are exposed to extremities of weather.

Bleeding cones:

Bleeding cones are a funnel shaped apparatus in which turkeys are placed upside down, their head and neck exposed at the bottom whilst the rest of their body is restrained in the cone. Turkeys are then decapitated and bled out in the cones. No stunning is required for this method of slaughter.

The European Food Safety Authority does not recommend decapitation as a form of ‘stunning’ as birds have been found to still be able to experience pain for up to 30 seconds after being decapitated.

Electrical Stunning:

Electrical stunning involves turkeys being shackled upside down by their legs, their heads then pulled through an electrified body of water intended to render them unconscious before their throats are cut open or they are decapitated. Numerous investigations have revealed poultry regularly lift their heads, missing the stun bath and consequently are slaughtered whilst fully conscious.