Suffering Of Farmed Turkeys Exposed In UK
by ANC Staff, CIWF and RSPCA
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 plucking
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
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 their environment.
"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,"
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
In addition, many develop painful skin conditions
caused by the dirty litter floor on which they spend their
"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 UK include:
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 roasting
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 of turkeys.
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.
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.