On the Farm

Canadian turkey farmers take great pride in ensuring the humane treatment and care of their turkeys, while providing safe, high quality food to consumers.

In Canada, most turkeys are raised in specially designed, environmentally-controlled barns that provide protection from predators, disease and bad weather (though some may be grown in semi-controlled housing or on range). Each environment is monitored, as per Turkey Farmers of Canada’s Flock Care Program©, with regard to temperature and climate, light, space, and access to food and water. Turkeys are not kept in cages and are free to roam on floors that are covered with soft, dry bedding or litter.

During the time that it takes to raise a flock, turkey farmers give constant care and attention to their birds.

Immediately upon their arrival from the hatchery, day-old turkeys (poults) are placed in climate-controlled barns where they are kept warm and given special care. This first stage of their life, from the time they are placed to five-six weeks of age, is called brooding.

The next stage of production, known as the growing cycle, runs until the birds grow to between 11 and 17 weeks of age, when they will reach their desired market weight. Hens (females) are typically grown for the whole bird market, while toms (males) are more likely to be grown for the further processed market (though some are sold as whole birds).

Every effort is made on the farm to ensure the safe care and handling of turkeys. Turkey farmers across Canada have access to and are implementing TFC's On-Farm Food Safety Program©, which outlines extensive biosecurity measures, including restricting access of people and animals to barns, disinfecting equipment and taking proper barn management and hygiene precautions; all aimed at keeping birds healthy.

Today, implementation of top-quality food safety programs and standardized animal welfare plans, such as the TFC’s On-Farm Food Safety and Flock Care Programs©, help to ensure that Canadian turkey farmers continue to produce safe and high quality turkey, as they have for generations.

If you are interested in becoming a turkey farmer, please contact your provincial turkey board office.

Code of Practice
Canada’s Codes of Practice are national guidelines for farm animal care requirements and recommended best practices. They are intended to promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for animal care that promote animal health and well being. The Codes serve as educational tools, reference materials for regulations, and as the foundation for industry animal care assessment programs.

Codes must be reviewed regularly and revised as production and management systems evolve. The Turkey Farmers of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers and Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council initiated a review and update of the existing Code of Practice for chickens, turkeys and breeders in October 2011. The ongoing review and Code development process is being led by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) in collaboration with multiple stakeholders. Code revisions follow specific steps that are designed to make the process transparent, collaborative, science-informed, consensus-based, and reflective of societal expectations.

For more information, visit the NFACC website.