Suffering Of Farmed Turkeys Exposed
by ANC Staff, CIWF <http://www.ciwf.co.uk/>
and RSPCA <http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/News/NewsFeature>
Posted on December 14, 2003
An undercover investigation by the British group 'Compassion in
World Farming' (CIWF) has revealed that, while this may be the season
of peace and goodwill for mankind, it is the season of unimaginable
brutality for turkeys suffering at the hands of mankind.
The footage, which was obtained during the last fortnight on two
separate farms, reveals shocking levels of turkey suffering and
illegal slaughter in the UK. The despicable and illegal mistreatment
of turkeys included:
1. Complete failure to use pre-stunning equipment prior to throat-slitting
2. Birds being plucked alive due to failure to respect the minimum
two-minute delay between throat-cutting and the commencement of
3. Live turkeys' heads plunged into a vat of congealed blood as
they bleed to death
To obtain the footage, CIWF's investigator took up temporary employment
as a turkey-plucker within the onsite slaughterhouses of two independent
farms in Staffordshire and Bedfordshire.
The investigator said, "Occasionally, when the way in which
the birds' throats had been slit would allow it, a squealing and
hissing sound was made by them. It was horrible to hear.'
Kerry Burgess, CIWF's Campaigns Director said, 'The fact that such
inhumane practices are allowed to go on in this day and age is absolutely
unacceptable. CIWF will be taking steps to ensure that those inflicting
such unnecessary cruelty are suitably prosecuted.'
The UK's RSPCA also revealed this week that modern turkeys are
now bred to such grotesque sizes they would probably die out without
the help of artificial insemination. The organization is urging
British shoppers to spare a thought for the animal at the center
of the Christmas dinner.
The Royal Society has condemned the ineffectiveness of basic UK
legislation which it says fails to protect many millions of turkeys
from a life in which they are denied the opportunity to express
natural behaviours such as mating, moving around freely and exploring
"It is an unpalatable thought for most, but the huge modern
turkey would probably not exist without human intervention,"
said RSPCA senior scientific officer Caroline Le Sueur.
"To achieve maximum yield of the preferred breast meat male
birds have become so large that they can scarcely get close enough
to a hen to mate - and any attempt could seriously injure the female,"
"To maintain these sizes hens must be artificially inseminated,
a process which is highly likely to be stressful for the birds and
can lead to injury. If nature were left to its own course then these
larger birds would die out and more naturally-proportioned turkeys
would survive," she explained.
Crammed into a space not much larger than the roasting tin they
will be cooked in (up to 60kg/m2) many of the UK turkeys suffer
lameness which is linked to their huge size.
In addition, many develop painful skin conditions caused by the
dirty litter floor on which they spend their life.
"We must seriously question modern breeding techniques which
have led to this situation," Le Sueur continued. "In 1995
a committee set up by the government to consider the ethics of animal
breeding concluded that the production of birds physically incapable
of engaging in natural behaviour was 'fundamentally objectionable'."
Other disturbing facts about the turkey farming industry in the
1. There is no legally-set maximum stocking density for the production
of most turkeys so by the time they reach slaughter weight many
end up occupying a space not much bigger than the size of a turkey
2. Turkeys currently only have to be given 30 minutes of darkness
for rest time each day.
3. There are no legal criteria for food, water, lighting or handling
Tasty, nutritious vegetarian alternatives to the usual turkey roast
can be found at the Web sites of the British Vegetarian Society,
the British Vegan Society, and VIVA! UK. Links to these recipes
are provided in the More Information Box to the right of this article.
Compassion In World Farming (CIWF)
December Press Release
Stuffed! RSPCA highlights suffering behind the Christmas roast
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150