Roughly 46 million turkeys are killed in the United States each year for Thanksgiving. That number accounts for nearly 17 percent of all turkeys raised in the country annually.
Large commercial turkey brands produce turkey destined for the freezer year-round. They slaughter about 10 percent of their turkeys to be sold fresh each year. Birds bound to be sold fresh spend up to 18 weeks on farms before they are slaughtered and chilled at processing plants. Poultry companies usually ship fresh birds to retailers on the same day the birds are slaughtered and processed. Turkey farmers rely on artificial lights to fool turkeys into believing it is spring, their natural breeding season, year-round to ensure constant production.