Animal rights campaign group Gaia has launched a campaign against the cruel conditions in which turkeys are raised for Christmas.
The campaign features three thirty-second teaser videos that start with a happy Christmas meal where a father carves a turkey for the family, then cut to scenes filmed in real conditions, where turkeys are seen crowded into an airless shed; filthy, pecked bare of feathers, bearing open wounds, crippled, dying and dead. For those who can bear it, the full three-minute version is available on Gaia’s website.
The films were made in three turkey farms in West Flanders in October this year, as the birds were being prepared for Christmas demand.
“The turkey has been forgotten by the legislator,” the organisation argues on its website.
In the last three years, more than 750,000 turkeys have been bred and slaughtered for the tables of Belgium, yet there is still no legislation governing the treatment of turkeys raised for food. Nothing limits the number of birds that can be packed together in a shed as shown in the video – nothing, that is, except the farmer’s own judgement on how high a death rate they are willing to accept.
The organisation is calling for a ratings system to allow consumers to choose between two categories of turkey – one star for the most basic animal protection as determined by law, and two stars for turkeys raised in better conditions – a slower-growing breed which helps reduce crippling conditions, fewer animals kept in a single space, access to outside air and daylight, and bedding material on the floor of sufficiently high quality and cleanliness.
“The intensive farming of turkeys is completely degenerate,” said Michel Vandenbosch, president of Gaia. “The whole system is a disgraceful spit in the face of the whole notion of animal welfare. The absolutely abominable and disgusting conditions our witnesses discovered in the farms they visited are the best evidence of where the lack of legislation can lead.”
Gaia has launched a petition to be handed over to the federal and regional ministers responsible for animal welfare, calling for legislation of the sector.
The Brussels Times