BPC puts The Daily Mail straight

BPC puts The Daily Mail straight

The British Poultry Council (BPC) described The Daily Mail’s recent article ‘The truth about free-range turkeys will put you off your Christmas dinner,’ as both inaccurate and disappointing.

The British Poultry Council (BPC) described The Daily Mail’s recent article ‘The truth about free-range turkeys will put you off your Christmas dinner,’ as both inaccurate and disappointing.

To ensure a proper understanding of the industry, it has made, what it calls,  important clarifications regarding the article.

Indoor reared poultry is produced under strict standards which cover bird health and welfare, biosecurity, and training. There is no such thing as battery turkeys or battery chickens. The term battery only applies to battery cages that were previously used for table egg production and now banned in the EU. Poultry raised for meat in the UK is not kept in cages.

BPC 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” and the ‘DEFRA Code of Recommendations for the welfare of livestock – turkeys.’

Stocking density under QBT follows the recommendations of the Farmed Animal Welfare Council, an independent advisory body to the government. Under QBT standards, turkeys are able to move freely around the house and have permanent access to feed and water.

The flock size is determined by the permitted stocking density and the size and facilities in the house. Traditional free-range farms have a limit of 2,500 per house according to the EU Poultrymeat Marketing Regulations.

Beak trimming 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. Any beak trimming carried out must be recorded in the QBT standards. The use of red-hot blades is not permitted under QBT standards. Organic producers can also resort to beak trimming should the welfare of the birds require it.

The EU Poultrymeat Marketing Regulations specify the ready access to the outside from all parts of the house through popholes. The number and size of popholes are defined according to the size of the house. Therefore birds have continuous and ready access to the outside. The Regulations also state that free-range birds must have access to vegetation outside.

Birds are allowed to move freely. It is a bird’s choice to stay inside. Cold, rainy or snowy weather deter the birds from going outside. Stocking density is regulated indoors and outdoors. Free-range birds must each have at least 4m² outside. Organic production meets different standards from free-range production.

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