Higher welfare alternatives
Higher welfare indoor systems
In higher welfare indoor systems, turkeys are reared in barns with a larger space allowance per bird. Enrichment is usually provided in the form of perches and straw bales to encourage exercise and exploration.
This system offers turkeys more opportunity to behave naturally and gives them better air and litter quality. It reduces the risk of lameness, foot sores and eye problems.
Free-range and organic systems
These systems offer significantly higher welfare for turkeys.
These turkeys have continuous access to an outdoor range during the daytime. The range should be largely covered in vegetation and allow more space. Access to fresh air and daylight means better eye and respiratory health. The turkeys are able to exercise and exhibit natural behaviour resulting in stronger, healthier legs.
Free-range systems often use slower-growing breeds of turkey which suffer less from heart problems and lameness associated with fast growth rate.
In organic systems, turkeys are also free-range.
Organic systems often use slower-growing breeds and the turkeys typically live for up to 5 months.
They have at least 10 square metres of space each and there are fewer birds housed per shed.
Small, movable houses are often used and shelter is often provided by trees and shrubs on the outside range.
Slower growth rate and access to an outdoor range means a better quality of life. They are able to exercise, explore and behave naturally. More space reduces stress and the need for beak- trimming.
Better management of slaughter
Because of their weight, turkeys need careful handling during the slaughter process. Current rules allow turkeys to be left hanging in shackles for up to three minutes – we believe this is much too long for these heavy birds. They should be stunned by a method that stops their hearts before their throats are cut (stun-killing). Humane gas stunning systems using inert gases should also be encouraged.
In seasonal slaughterhouses and on-farm, electrical head-stunning should be used before slaughter. At least 2 minutes should elapse before plucking.
Find out how you can help to stop the suffering of intensively reared turkeys.