27th November 2002
TURKEY FARM SUFFERING EXPOSED BY VIVA!
Vegetarian campaigning organisation Viva! (Vegetarians International
Voice for Animals) last week conducted undercover investigations
on two Norfolk turkey farms, one owned by Bernard Matthews,
the other supplying Bernard Matthews, where they found conditions
described by the RSPCA as "appalling". Scenes of
overcrowding, lameness, dead and dying birds and open wounds
were. GMTV ran footage this morning (27 Nov) which the RSPCA
decribed as "disgraceful".
In the early hours of November 21, Viva!, accompanied by
a reporter from GMTV, visited a Bernard Matthews fattening
unit at Weston Longville and a breeding unit at Friars Farm
near Morningthorpe, which supplies Bernard Matthews. They
entered through unlocked doors, damaging nothing, disinfecting
boots, and in one instance unclogging a blocked feeder. What
they found included:
* thousands of birds packed together in stinking barns on
* birds so overweight their legs were unable to support their
bodies and were lame or collapsed; birds with deformed and
broken legs; birds dragging themselves across the floor on
their wings; some birds joints so swollen they were
up to four times the normal size;
* a bird collapsed on its back, gasping for air and dying
in front of them;
birds with large, open wounds;
* countless birds with extensive feather loss; birds with
no feathers on their breasts, apparently burnt away by ammonia
from the litter;
a dead bird left to lie in the corridor;
* birds mutilated by debeaking;
* an artificial insemination unit, including a "masturbating"
chair on which semen is forcibly collected from male birds
to artificially inseminate the hens;
Martin Potter, the RSPCAs Head of Farmed Animals viewed
the footage of Bernard Matthews farm at Weston Longville
and described what he saw as "appalling". He went
on: "I have to say that that was a true picture of intensive
turkey production." He also commented: "the management
of that farm seemed to be really quite disgraceful."
"Sadly, these conditions will be replicated on turkey
farms up and down the country. Viva! has been calling for
an end to all factory farming and these sad scenes are yet
more proof of its cruelty," says Viva! campaigner Claudia
Tarry. "All that turkeys get for Christmas is a violent
death following a short, pathetic life. Christmas should be
a time for compassion, not killing. The best present you can
possibly give is the gift of life - you can do that by not
eating animals and going veggie instead."
Notes for editors:
Photographs and footage of the breeding unit have not yet
been published or transmitted.
Around 30 million turkeys are killed each year in the UK.
This year around 11 million will be killed for Christmas.
Turkeys are artificially inseminated because they are too
big to mate normally (can weigh up to 60lb).
Turkeys are de-beaked to prevent injuries from fighting or
aggression as a result of stress and cramped conditions. De-beaking
can result in permanent pain.
Turkeys in the wild live up to 10yrs old; meat turkeys are
killed between two and six months old. Wild turkeys can fly:
domestic turkeys have been bred to carry too much weight to