Curious and intelligent, with beautiful plumage, turkeys are fascinating animals. Sadly, millions are still farmed each year in the UK for their meat and subjected to terrible welfare conditions.

Meet our rescued turkeys Colin & Susan

As the only two turkeys here at Goodheart Farm Animal Sanctuary, Colin & Susan rule the roost, and they certainly know it! Join our Sanctuary Manager Dave as he introduces these two cheeky residents!

Colin & Susan explore their new home

Our hens and cockerels are having a lovely time exploring the new Goodheart Home for Rescued Hens…but there were two characters missing from the action!

Not wanting Colin and Susan to feel left out, we brought them up from the yard to explore one of aviaries and join in the fun.

Fascinating turkey behaviours

Colour changing

Did you know that turkeys can alter their appearance?! These incredible animals have the ability to relax and contract blood vessels in the skin on their head and neck in order to change the colour of their skin. They use this same method to lengthen and shorten their snood (the fleshy piece of skin just above the beak).


Turkeys can produce up to 28 different calls, but perhaps the most well known is the classic “gobble” – a very loud throaty sound made mainly by male turkeys. It’s thought that it’s used to make hens (female turkeys) aware of their presence, but it’s also used as an alarm call to warn against potential predators.


As well as “gobbling”, turkeys emit purring sounds when they’re content. These soft, rolling calls are similar to the ones our hens make as they wander happily around the yard, pecking and scratching. It’s thought the noise is also made so that everyone within the flock stays together.


Believe it or not, turkeys strut! This fascinating behaviour of walking in a slow and impressive way is instinctive and almost always carried out by males. According to experts, there are variety of different struts, all with different purposes, from attracting a mate to asserting dominance. Look out for our alpha male turkey Colin strutting around our sanctuary garden. Sometimes he even pauses to admire his reflection in the classroom windows!

Farmed vs Free

The natural lifespan of the turkey can be up to 10 years.

Sadly, approximately 16 million turkeys are slaughtered for meat annually in the UK, 12.8% of which are during the festive season alone. Turkeys reared for meat are usually killed when they are 5 months’ old.

Natural life expectancy
10 years
Turkeys reared for meat
5 months
Turkeys within the farming industry

Life in an intensive farming system

  • Many intensively farmed turkeys are reared in overcrowded sheds of up to 25,000 individuals, with little ventilation and no natural light. An unpleasant condition known as foot pad dermatitis is common as a result of the high ammonia levels found in these systems.
  • Individual birds are de-beaked within days of hatching using an infrared laser.
  • Aggression between individuals is common as a result of little or no environmental stimulation.
  • The transportation process is incredibly stressful and involves the capture and crating of birds into very tightly packed cages.

Life at our sanctuary

Out resident turkeys live a life of comfort and freedom here at our sanctuary…

  • They have ample space and a stimulating environment to explore and can often be found enjoying the sanctuary garden and neighbouring wooded area, for napping and dust bathing.
  • Every evening, our team escort our turkeys back to their cosy overnight enclosure, safe from predators.
  • Our team carry out daily health checks on all our animals, to ensure any conditions are treated promptly and their mental and physical well-being is maintained.
Rescued turkeys at Goodheart Farm Animal Sanctuary

Get to know our tenacious turkeys

Susan the rescued turkey


Susan was one of the very first animals to arrive at the sanctuary when it opened its doors in 2017. Susan’s previous owners bought her for Christmas, or rather, for their Christmas dinner, but before long, her quirky personality has won them over, and as December approached, Susan was on her way to Goodheart instead of the dinner table.

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Not long after, Colin arrived and the two quickly became inseparable. Unlike Susan, who is shy and sweet tempered, Colin is a very grumpy boy indeed. He will allow you to admire his beautiful plumage from afar, but hang around too long and you may get a swift peck on the shoe! Despite this, our sanctuary would be far too quiet without his assertive gobbles keeping us all in check.

Colin and Susan are two of our most entertaining residents. Whether they’re taking long dust baths or stalking visitors, there really is never a dull moment with them around. You can help more animals enjoy the good life by adopting a resident today! 

Learn more about our work...


Take a look at our plans for a brand-new Home for Rescued Hens.