Research Topic

The Welfare of Domestic Turkeys

About this Research Topic

The commercial turkey industry has changed dramatically over the last fifty years. Where production in the 1960s was primarily focused around providing whole turkeys for North American holidays in the autumn and winter, turkey production now is more global and increasingly year-round. Production has also changed from small, multispecies family farms to single species, single sex rearing in groups of up to 10,000 birds. While turkeys have only been domesticated for approximately two millennia and appear to maintain most of the social and inquisitive nature of their wild ancestors, modern genetics, housing and management practices sometimes result in a mismatch between the animal and its environment. This mismatch may result in reduced welfare in terms of affective states (e.g., pain resulting from injuries), biological functioning (e.g., reduced leg health) and ability to perform natural behaviour (e.g., foraging and roosting).

This Research Topic will focus on domestic turkey behaviour and welfare, from hatch to slaughter. Many countries have science-based legislated welfare standards for the care and handling of farmed animal species. However, because of the lack of turkey-focused research, many recommendations and requirements for turkeys are based on research from other species (particularly broiler chickens), despite the vast differences in the biology, development and behaviour between the species. In addition, modern genetics and nutrition have resulted in a significant increase in the production of heavy turkeys, deeming older research results potentially inadequate for addressing current welfare concerns. These concerns include, among others, the need for surgical interventions including beak treatment and toe trimming; early starvation in poults; aggression in sexually maturing toms; the development of leg health problems; feather pecking; and social dynamics in very large group sizes.

This Research Topic aims to be a collection of original research and review articles focused on turkey welfare, from hatch to slaughter. Contributions focused on behaviour, physiology, health, ethics or multidisciplinary approaches are welcomed. This collection will significantly increase the knowledge base on turkey welfare, identify gaps in knowledge to provide direction for future research in turkey welfare, and enable stronger science-based recommendations for improving the lives of turkeys.


Keywords: Turkey, Animal Welfare, Poultry, Animal Behavior


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The commercial turkey industry has changed dramatically over the last fifty years. Where production in the 1960s was primarily focused around providing whole turkeys for North American holidays in the autumn and winter, turkey production now is more global and increasingly year-round. Production has also changed from small, multispecies family farms to single species, single sex rearing in groups of up to 10,000 birds. While turkeys have only been domesticated for approximately two millennia and appear to maintain most of the social and inquisitive nature of their wild ancestors, modern genetics, housing and management practices sometimes result in a mismatch between the animal and its environment. This mismatch may result in reduced welfare in terms of affective states (e.g., pain resulting from injuries), biological functioning (e.g., reduced leg health) and ability to perform natural behaviour (e.g., foraging and roosting).

This Research Topic will focus on domestic turkey behaviour and welfare, from hatch to slaughter. Many countries have science-based legislated welfare standards for the care and handling of farmed animal species. However, because of the lack of turkey-focused research, many recommendations and requirements for turkeys are based on research from other species (particularly broiler chickens), despite the vast differences in the biology, development and behaviour between the species. In addition, modern genetics and nutrition have resulted in a significant increase in the production of heavy turkeys, deeming older research results potentially inadequate for addressing current welfare concerns. These concerns include, among others, the need for surgical interventions including beak treatment and toe trimming; early starvation in poults; aggression in sexually maturing toms; the development of leg health problems; feather pecking; and social dynamics in very large group sizes.

This Research Topic aims to be a collection of original research and review articles focused on turkey welfare, from hatch to slaughter. Contributions focused on behaviour, physiology, health, ethics or multidisciplinary approaches are welcomed. This collection will significantly increase the knowledge base on turkey welfare, identify gaps in knowledge to provide direction for future research in turkey welfare, and enable stronger science-based recommendations for improving the lives of turkeys.


Keywords: Turkey, Animal Welfare, Poultry, Animal Behavior


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 December 2017 Abstract
15 May 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 December 2017 Abstract
15 May 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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