Todayâ€™s domesticated turkeys are anatomically manipulated to be so heavy and large breasted … that they are now incapable of breeding naturally. Practically all of the turkeys raised commercially in the United States are the result of artificial insemination … Turkeys and other animals exploited for food are excluded from the Federal Animal Welfare Act … and although a majority of states have laws that prohibit sexual contact with animals … farm animals are excluded from these as well. Breeding toms languish for roughly one year in dark crowded pens and are typically handled twice a week during â€œmilkingâ€ sessions to collect their semen. Their legs are secured in a clamp on a bench, and then the bird is held over the lap of a worker who induces the turkey to ejaculate … Roughly twice a week, hens are herded into a room, then one after another, they are held upside down, â€œcracked openâ€ (as termed by industry representatives) and inseminated in assembly line fashion. As with the males, the femalesâ€™ legs are clamped into metal forceps during the process as laborers race to inseminate an average of 1,200-1,400 hens within two hours.
Collecting semen from a chicken or turkey is done by stimulating the copulatory organ to protrude by massaging the abdomen and the back over the testes. This is followed quickly by pushing the tail forward with one hand and, at the same time, using the thumb and forefinger of the same hand to â€œmilkâ€ semen from the ducts of this organ. Semen flow response is quicker and easier to stimulate in chickens than in turkeys. The semen may be collected with an aspirator or in a small tube or any cup-like container. In turkeys, the volume averages ~0.35-0.5 mL, with a spermatozoon concentration of 6 to >8 billion/mL. In chickens, volume is 2-3 times that of turkeys, but the concentration is about one-half.