Turkey groupthink

Video link. I was very impressed as a child when the owner of a local turkey farm showed our class that he could make all the turkeys talk at once. He made a loud sound, and an enormous barn full of turkeys all replied in unison, a chorus of gobbles, much like the video above. Works with free range and suburban wild turkeys, too.


  1. “Wow, you guys have been the best. . .what a great audience! No, thank YOU, give yourselves a big round of applause. . .Thank You Thank You; I’ll be here all week!”

  2. Reminds me of Apple fanboys.

    “Beatles on iTunes!” gobble-googble!

    “Apple TV!” ZOMg-gobble!

    “Rupert Murdoch media on the iPad!” gimme-more gobble!

    “Free MobileMe!” gabble goodble good deal!

    “iPhone on Verizon!” I can haz teh white one? gooooooble!

  3. I know I’m supposed to laugh with abandon, but the mere thought of factory farms like this one (?) kinda makes me feel queasy. Fail.

  4. The gobbling is funny, but seeing those poor birds crammed in together like that really bothers me. Only free-range turkey for me.

    1. Since they are not in cages, and the wall the camera is filming from is “open” I believe this IS free range chickens.

      Free range just means not tethered or caged, the law only requires like 1 sq ft per chicken, can’t be much more for turkey’s

  5. Weird stuff.

    I love birds, and I do eat meat and poultry, but I had no idea that factory farms were anywhere near this bad. It’s disgusting. I realized the importance of free range eggs before, and always buy them if I buy eggs, but I didn’t appreciate just how bad the alternative could be for the lives of the birds involved.

    1. As long as there is a window and a teeny door to the outside, the lack of cages probably means that this is actually a free-range farm.

      1. @hectorwina, yes, I believe this would constitute a “free range” turkey farm per USDA poultry regulations.

    2. These birds would actually be considered free range, as they are not confined to cages and you can see in the back that the birds have access to an outside spot.

  6. It’s hard for me to look at them knowing that every single one of them will be murdered. Not a single one will escape. It’s a death camp.

    1. Yes, but a very, VERY tasty deathcamp.

      BTW, murder is an action which (according to dictionaries, philosophers and general consensus) can only be done to humans. The terms kill and slaughter are two of those used for the taking of a life in general, including a non-human life. If we traditionally killed other humans for food we would probably also differentiate between that killing and a murder (the willful and illegal killing of a human).
      In fact, we already do that. Execution vs murder.

    2. Correct, in a way. But maybe try a different perspective:

      Any life form is born, and at some point, will die, and at their death will inevitably be consumed by another (be it fungi/insects/etc. decomposing the body of one that died of old age, or a predator actively killing and eating their prey); their birth can happen in any number of contexts and for any number of reasons, such as in the wild and to propagate a species, or be born on a farm to eventually provide food for the farmers raising them. Now, of course we might call an unpleasant (i.e. painful), unnecessary death (i.e. killing young kids “because they misbehaved”) “murder,” and more pleasant (i.e. painless), necessary death (such as “we just aren’t yet able to make your miserable life more pleasant, but maybe someday we could for someone in your situation in the future” as we see with people desiring assisted suicide that have currently untreatable, debilitating medical conditions) “mercy killing.” It’s certainly possible for farmers to engage in “murder,” (fully industrialized farming with forceful, painful killing of the animals) but just as possible for “mercy killing,” if the farmer sets up the right conditions and takes the right actions; a turkey farm where the turkeys are raised in a large building with a small door isn’t really free-range, because the turkeys are (maybe implicitly) raised with the mentality of needing to remain in their shelter, never thinking of leaving (maybe a few turkeys would, but in general, most wouldn’t). They have to be raised such that they actively choose to go outside on their own, but go back inside when necessary, for their lives to be as good as they can be; this may require forcing them to see their possibilities, and not leaving it up to them to see.

      I’m not trying to convince any vegans that eating animals is OK ( there’s more than one diet to live on that’s healthy); I’m just trying to present a more complete perspective on life forms and farming in general.

      Now, of course the only way to be sure that animals are farmed properly right now is to either know the farmers and see what they do for yourself, or run your own farm the right way. I don’t think the current regulations on what “free-range” means is good enough to trust such a label (as a lot of profit-motive bullshit is getting in the way), but I think it could become trustworthy with changes to its requirements.

  7. My favorite part is the sound they make when they get electrocuted in a tank full of feces. Or maybe the sound they make when they incubate the next spanish flu.

  8. OMG! I thought I was the only one that knew this secret – I used to do it with the theme from “The Great White North” – what a hoser, eh? These turkeys definitely sound different than the Canadian kind – must be the British accent…

  9. Man it’d be funny to replace your standard TV laugh track with those turkey gobbles, see if anyone noticed.

    Reminds me of that scene in Sneakers where Robert Redford is recounting the sounds he heard during his ride in a car trunk and he recounts hearing a cocktail party, where he swears there must have been people talking and laughing. Dan Akroid’s character figures out it was a bunch of geese.

    1. It wasn’t Mother (played by Dan Aykroyd ) who figured it out. It was the blind guy, Whistler, played by David Strathairn.

      Mother was just the guy driving.

  10. I worked on a free range turkey farm for a few hours once. I discovered that dead (and sometimes sick) turkeys don’t have Eyeballs.

  11. Free range means absolutely nothing within the US. There are no regulations on its usage. It is simply a marketing term.

    Organic on the other hand does. Organic must have access to the outside and not live in cages. Pastured poultry is a new one that is supposed to be raised directly on green pasture (never indoors).

  12. Why are they white?

    I’ve only ever seen real (wild) turkeys. Are the domesticated ones all white like this?

  13. I can’t believe that there are people who care enough about animals to buy free range poultry/eggs, yet they don’t care enough to find out what “free range” actually means. So you’ll spend extra money on supposedly humane products without googling a bit to find out exactly what the requirements for that label are?

    I became a vegetarian as a kid because of a traumatizing experience with being made to watch a flock of chickens getting their heads chopped off, and having to help pluck them afterward. Bad idea for a six year old.







    Sounded a lot more like a teabagger rally than Apple fanboys.

  15. Factory farms aren’t cute or amusing. This video is so disturbing. I don’t care how “stupid” people thing the birds are, they don’t deserve to be standing in the dark their entire lives, walking over dead bodies of their companions, and standing in feces every day until they’re killed. FAIL.

    1. ah, sorry, hamcake. glad you got there as well.

      google translate has the title down as something about “campaign promises” :)

      sadly, my turkish goes about as far as remembering that “thank you” in turkish sounds a whole lot like “testicular” in english.

      also, macs suck. :)

  16. Reminds me of whatever political or social groups I don’t like! LOL.

    In related news, I find my sympathy for birds shrinking over time. They’re just not very relatable I guess.

  17. I’m envisioning an app where you put in a keyword for twitter you’d like to be notified of, and every time it’s mentioned, you get the turkey chorus.

  18. I don’t know for sure – but I’ll bet that those turkeys have a lot more space than you see there. They just all crowded the fence because people were there and they were either curious or they expected food. So, don’t get all hyper about “factory farms” until you know if this really was an overcrowded mess or the turkeys were just crowding the fence.

    Turkeys bred for commercial meat are brighter than chickens, BUT I think about 3/4 of their brain is centered on getting more food.

    And they are oh oh so tasty.

    1. It’s a bit dumb to assume that “they must have more space than that, because keeping them like this would be cruel”. Welcome to 1950s-style farming: All the best chemicals and antibiotics, all very efficient with metal-grille floors etc, never mind the health or sanity of the bird. After about 9 months of a life in constant pain, sickness and torture it gets killed anyway.

      (Now please don’t think I’m one of those preaching vegan sectarians or anything … but I do try my best to avoid huge-farm meat, and try to buy meat from smallish butcheries who know where their products come from.)

      1. If you really care, it’s a bit dumb to blindly assume that your butcher won’t sell you a Butterball. Trust shouldn’t have to enter the equation. If you’re serious, that is.

  19. Its amazing how farmers can be trained to talk simply by making a gobbling sound in response to any of their orations.

  20. In my native Connecticut word was (and this may be apocryphal) that you had to always keep turkeys under a shed because they are so incredibly stupid that if it rains, they all look up in unison … and drown.

  21. I showed my kids this video and found they cannot understand a British accent! They need a forced weekend of Monty Python films.

  22. This sounds like the scene in front of my house last week, with wild turkeys on one side of the fence, and my neighbours obnoxious dogs on the other.


    It went on like that for about 45 minutes, escalating until one last big round of G-O-B-B-L-E!! and then a dog yelp, and then silence.

  23. I’m going to start a meatatarian movement. And every time some holier-than-thou veger/vegan gives me grief about my lifestyle choice, I’ll break down and cry for all the cute little vegetables that are needlessly “murdered” every second. Plants are people too ya know. Bah…

    Seriously, most of my vegetarian friends are a little more tolerant. I suppose that is because they are in it for the health/resource/environment/anti-famine reason. Not because of some overly emotional reaction about creatures with the brain power of my pocket calculator and the emotional index of a two year old.

    That said, I do support organic and humane treatment of animals, I just don’t really see why people react as if this is some death-camp, tragedy. My answer to my veg friends, “damnit, I like the taste of meat. And sometimes tofu just doesn’t cut it.”

    Also, this video was fairly amusing, got the point about thirty seconds in but still amusing.

  24. It sounds to me like the human voice causes the nearby turkeys to gobble, which causes the farther away turkeys to gobble, and so on.

    This suggests that if you held a critical density of turkeys in a ring shaped enclosure with a large enough circumference, you might end up with an endless gobble wave.

  25. You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
    –Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

    The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future—deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.
    –Editors, World Watch (July/August 2004)

    As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis.
    -Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer, Nobel laureate, (1904-1991)

  26. I think our unwillingness to kill the animals we eat is part of what causes us to hide the animals themselves as far away as possible – to the point where they are all raised in factory farms, which we never see and try not to look into too carefully. So you end up with hundreds of turkeys packed into a shed. The plus side of this is that the broad-breasted white turkeys which are factory raised for our tables are bred to eat a lot, move around very little, and grow fast. Even if you give them access to the outdoors, few of them will leave the comfort of their sheds and feeders. By butchering time they can barely walk because they have been bred to produce such huge breasts they’ll just topple over.

    Raise a few birds of your own. Give them a good life. Get your hands dirty butchering them. Enjoy your meat, knowing where it came from, how it was raised, and that you really value the source. Or at least buy from a small local farmer who does so.

  27. “…few of them will leave the comfort of their sheds and feeders.”

    That word you used, I’m not sure it means what you think it means.

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