Matriarch Turkey: Freida May

Jan 23, 2023
My favourite photo of Freida May

This photo shows Freida May in all her glory as the reigning fluffy white matriarch of our feathered flock. But her reign ended this past Monday.

Three years was not long enough to be in her glowing white presence. But Freida May did defy all the odds by living into her 6th year. This is a miracle for her breed.

Freida May in the summer of 2020

The odds were always against her because of the health Issues brought on by the commercial turkey industry that breeds her and all her brothers and sisters to be super sized. She was genetically engineered to carry large and burdensome breasts on her short breast bone. When we first rescued her, her breasts were almost dragging on the ground. She was so top heavy that she spent most of her days resting which caused a lot of feather damage in this area.

We gave her a specialized diet of low fat exotic bird food and lots of greens, and encouraged lots of exercise. We managed to help her loose a few pounds slowly over the years, but it was impossible for her to ever be slim.

We nicknamed Freida May the Unicorn. She had the most amazing snood that would grow to great lengths with each of her moods. But most often was a pointed little horn on top of her head.

She was tucked in Sunday night after her dinner. She was found deceased on her nest by our Monday morning animal care team. Her heart and body just couldn’t fight the good fight anymore. Unfortunately, this is very common for farmed animals that are bred to be food. Their internal organs can’t support the extra weight – especially the heart which is forced to work overtime and eventually gives out.

I heard the news from my Monday team when I got to the farm with my weekly produce run including fresh romaine – Freida’s favourite.  There are no words coming to me at this moment to share how much I loved Freida May.  She was such a calming presence, a North Star, our guiding matriarch.  Full of generations deep wisdom on how to accept the life you’ve been given with grace and dignity.  I will feel her absence every day. I was always drawn to her when I needed quiet time. She helped to ground me and remind me why we work so hard to run a sanctuary. I am so sad she is not coming to the new farm with us. She would have loved to explore the lush green fields. She is being cremated and will come with us when we move and her ashes will be scattered in our future memorial garden.

Rest In Peace dear sweet Freida May. You finally got your wings to soar.

Keryn Denroche, Founder/Director