Raising Turkeys


  • Protein-rich, lean, low in fat
  • No growth hormones permitted
  • Health supervised by their veterinarian
  • Medications judiciously administered


  • Free to strut inside large barns
  • Protected from predators and weather
  • Constant access to water and feed
  • Fed corn, soybean meal, minerals and vitamins
  • Animal welfare safeguards and standards

Healthy animals provide healthy meat

Healthy animals are the basis of a healthy, humane and safe food system.

To prevent and control diseases in farm animals and to treat animals when they are sick, turkey farmers use a variety of tools including vaccines, good nutrition programs and proper housing to keep animals healthy.  

Turkeys will be provided appropriate veterinary care to prevent and treat diseases. To ensure proper animal and public health, any medications will be administered in a judicious fashion in accordance with the NTF’s Comprehensive Residue Avoidance Program and the American Association of Avian Pathologist’s Judicious Use Guidelines. 

Technical advances in breeding, production and processing have helped create turkeys that produce each pound of meat using a smaller amount of feed and in less time than most other domestic meat-producing animals. Each year, about 250 million turkeys are raised on about 2,000 independent farms across the United States. These turkeys are raised in scientifically-designed, temperature-regulated houses that provide maximum space and that protects them from weather, insects, rodents, predators and people who might spread disease. Except for breeding and transportation purposes, turkeys are allowed to roam freely within their house.

To help prevent disease, turkey farmers rely on vaccination, biosecurity against outside contamination, good hygiene, best management practices and placing newly-hatched poults certified free of specific infections. Turkeys are fed corn and soybean meal containing minerals and vitamins. All turkeys are free of hormones and free of steroids. When farmers use antibiotics, they do so according to label and dosing instructions approved by the FDA and under the care of a veterinarian. Before the birds are prepared for market, the antibiotics have been previously withdrawn from their feed. FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine specifies the period of time for the turkey to be clear from being administered an antibiotic. 

A significant portion of antibiotics that are used in animal production are only used on animals – those medications are not used in people.  Many of the most important antibiotics for people have limited or no use for farm animals. 

We all have a role to play in the fight against antibiotic resistance.  The Centers for Disease Control has cautioned physicians and hospitals regarding the over-prescribing of antibiotics to their patients. Their prevalent use in people has increased the resistance of some diseases to antibiotics. 

FDAs Center for Veterinary Medicine approves all antibotics for farm animals – limiting what is given, dosage, and treatment period. FDA regulations also require medications be out of an animal’s system before it goes to market. USDA tests farm animals to confirm compliance before they are used as meat. Federal monitoring of turkey flocks requires compliance.

Antibiotics remain effective against disease. FDA states, “It is inaccurate and alarmist to define bacteria resistant to one, or even a few, antimicrobials as ‘superbugs’ if these same bacteria are still treatable by other commonly used antibiotics.”