Turkeys

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Conventional Turkey Farming

Around 5 million turkeys are raised for their meat each year in Australia. Most of these turkeys are farmed in intensive systems where they are housed in sheds, in conditions similar to meat chickens. They do not have access to the outdoors.

Most of the animal welfare issues relating to turkey farming result from selective breeding to encourage rapid growth (so that they reach slaughter weight quickly). According to the RSPCA, this rapid growth can lead to a range of leg disorders, such as joint problems and fractures, as the birds become too heavy to support their own weight. As a result they are unable to access food and water and are prone to breast, hock and foot pad burn due to increased contact with contaminated litter. High stocking densities are another cause of lameness as the birds are unable to exercise. Other problems include:

  • Heat stress, due to over-crowding
  • Eye abnormalities, due to artificial lighting
  • Injurious pecking behavior and cannibalism, due to over-crowding and barren conditions inside the sheds

 

“…Around 5 million turkeys are raised for their meat each year in Australia…”

What are the alternatives?

The RSPCA, FREPA and Humane Choice run schemes for accrediting free range turkey farms in Australia. Certified organic turkey is also free range. See following table for a comparison of the different farming systems and standards:

Conventional
Organic
Humane
Choice
RSPCA
(outdoor)
FREPA
Access to outdoors
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Stocking density — indoor (birds/m2)
6-7
3-4
2
4-5
4-5
Allow mutilations (beak trimming, desnooding, toe trimming)
Yes
No
No
No*
No**
Systematic use of antibiotics prohibited?
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Use of growth promoters prohibited?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

* Beak trimming must not be performed routinely. Where beak trimming is considered necessary, it must be performed by a competent operator using an infrared technique. Desnooding and toe trimming are not permitted.

** Beak trimming, desnooding and toe trimming are not permitted except under veterinary advice and in line with the current edition of the animal welfare code for poultry which is approved in each State and Territory. Laser beak treatment is advisable if this is required.

 

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Highest animal welfare choices:

Accredited free range and organic turkey
  • For products labeled free range that are not accredited, speak to the retailer or producer directly to find out about farming methods used
  • Look for the following logos:

[image link=”http://consumewithcare.org/wp-content/themes/breeze/images/design/chicken/most_ethical_choices_CHICKEN.jpg” lightbox=”false” rounded=”all” width=”730″ alt=”Most Ethical Choices”/]

 

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  • Free range and organic turkey is not widely available.
  • Specialty butchers may carry some free range and organic turkey.
  • Farmers’ markets: see farmersmarkets.org.au to find markets in your local area
  • Online retailers. See Where to Buy

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See also:

[image link=”http://consumewithcare.org/wp-content/themes/breeze/images/design/chicken/ducks.jpg” url=”http://www.consumewithcare.org/ducks” lightbox=”false” rounded=”all” width=”730px” alt=”Ducks”/]

[image link=”http://consumewithcare.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Chicken-banner.jpg” lightbox=”false” rounded=”all” width=”730px” alt=”Chickens”/]

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