Turkey Welfare Article Prompts Reaction

UK - The British Poultry Council (BPC) has reacted to claims made by the Daily Mail over welfare standards in turkey production describing the article as ‘disappointing’ and ‘inaccurate’.
calendar icon 17 December 2012
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BPC says the 'Daily Mail' article denounced turkey raising methods in the UK, claiming that beak trimming, stocking ratios and the amount of outdoor time available to birds were reasons for consumers to question the 'Free-Range' label this Christmas.

The BPC have replied that indoor reared poultry is produced under strict standards, which cover bird health and welfare, biosecurity and training, said the BPC. The BPC also refuted the remarks about beak trimming, which is, ‘never routinely done and can only by carried out under strict veterinary recommendation and supervision when the welfare of the flock is at stake.’

The article also compared commercial Free Range Turkey enterprises to ‘battery’ farms raising questions about free range stocking densities. Outdoor access was said to be insufficient on some enterprises with bird movement out of the building through 'pop holes' being restricted.

The BPC has assured that EU legislation has now banned battery cages and that it was a method of farming birds for egg production. They added that flock size is determined by stocking density, size and facilities of the house and outdoor access is stipulated by EU Poultrymeat Marketing Regulations, which demand birds have access to vegetation.

Legally, 'pop holes' are defined in number and size according to the size of the house which the BPC assured allows birds to move freely according to weather.

The British Poultry Council reiterated that their members produce turkeys under the Quality British Turkey (QBT) standards, part of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme and reflect the requirements of 'Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations'.

Michael Priestley

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