The issue of raising animals to eat is a sensitive topic with many differing views on its morality. As a consumer who does include meat in my diet my own views were recently put to the test.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit an RSPCA Approved farm. With a very early wake up our destination was a turkey farm near Sydney. This farm is working with the RSPCA’s Approved Farming Scheme to raise turkeys in a high welfare indoor system.
I’ve never been to a poultry farm, let alone had any experience with turkeys, so I was really looking forward to the insight that this trip would give me. I wondered though if I would be turned off eating turkey this Christmas.
After arriving at the farm, going through bio-security procedures and having a quick chat with the very passionate farm employees we were let loose into a shed of seven-week-old turkeys.
Turkeys, as I now know, are confident and inquisitive. Walking into the shed, we were greeted by birds keen to investigate. Seven-week-old turkeys are a decent sized bird and they definitely like to make sure their presence is felt. Standing still, we were an instant target for boot and knee pecking. Sit down and very quickly we were surrounded by turkeys all wanting to get up close and a bit too personal.
Walking around inside the shed, it wasn’t surprising these turkeys looked healthy and content. They have a safe and comfortable environment with perches, plastic toys and hay bales to keep them entertained.
Best of all was seeing that the turkeys had plenty of space to stretch and flap their wings. Some turkeys took full advantage of the space and were going for great sprints with their wings outstretched.
This experience has given me an even greater awareness about the importance of supporting higher welfare farming when grocery shopping. All animals, including those destined for the supermarket are living, feeling creatures and it was great to see farmers working hard to raise animals in a dignified and humane way under the RSPCA Standards.