5 min read

Rescued Turkey Loves To Get Massages Now

She just closes her eyes and starts purring.

Nalla the turkey certainly knows the value of a good head rub.

Terran Baylor

Photographer Terran Baylor and his friend, Kery, were visiting The Gentle Barn, an animal sanctuary in California, where they got to meet Nalla and McKenna Rockett, two turkeys who'd been rescued from a factory farm.

"The staff said they were friendly," Baylor told The Dodo. "So we just decided to sit down and let them come to us."

Nalla and McKenna Rockett wandered up to Baylor and his friend, and got straight to cuddling.

Keri Shaw

"[Nalla] walked up very close and put her head down [on me]," Baylor said. "I just started rubbing her head and body. She closed her eyes and started 'purring.' At one point, she seemed like she fell asleep. We were there for quite some time - maybe 20 minutes. Then we were just feeling guilty for not letting others meet them."

Before Nalla and McKenna Rockett got head massages, they lived on a factory farm, where they were being raised for their meat. They'd also been de-beaked, which involved getting part of their beaks with a hot blade without anesthetic - a practice that's commonly done to factory-farmed birds so they don't hurt each other in their overcrowded cages or, if they're stressed, themselves.

Terran Baylor

"Nalla was rescued from a place where her beak was burned off when she was a baby," Michelle Robertson of The Gentle Barn told The Dodo. "She was in a room with hundreds of other scared turkeys waiting for their turn."

When Nalla and McKenna Rockett were eventually rescued in 2014, they were both traumatized. "They were so scared and sad when we brought them home, believing that we would fulfill their worst fears," Robertson said. "It took several months of us spending time with them, reading to them, singing to them, and being a positive presence until they knew they were safe."

Terran Baylor

Two years later, Nalla and her sister are thriving at the sanctuary.

The Gentle Barn

"Nalla loves to cuddle with us, and she welcomes visitors by sitting in their laps and falling asleep," Robertson said. "Nalla recently adopted a young chicken who was rejected by her mom because of her deformed leg. Nalla loves Peggy Sue and is always with her - she even naps with Peggy Sue tucked under her wing like all mommy birds do. It's so beautiful to watch Nalla heal her heart and let go of her past, she is now an incredible ambassador for all turkeys - teaching humans how friendly and sweet they are!"

The Gentle Barn

Baylor couldn't agree more. "It was the first time I really held a turkey," he said. "This was special since they just loved the rubbing and closeness. It was amazing that they weren't afraid of us, as you'd expect them to be."

The Gentle Barn

To help care for Nalla, her sister and all the other animals The Gentle Barn has rescued from similar situations, you can make a donation here.