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July 7, 2022

In a professional statement, we present the serious implications of loading and transport conditions for turkeys.

Expertise for Animals supports L214 in current turkey fattening campaign

Expertise for Animals supports the new campaign of the organization L214 with an expert position on the problems uncovered. The campaign focuses on the abuses of the French turkey industry. These malpractices are a systemic problem and therefore not limited to France.

The undercover footage documents the treatment of animals in intensive turkey fattening. In addition to the stressful living conditions in the rearing farms, the pictures show violent scenes during the loading of the heavy turkeys.

People who catch the animals grab the large turkeys by their wings or legs and heave them into the transport cages without regard for their welfare. To load them even faster under time pressure, the workers kick the birds into the low cages.

Focused turkey sitting with other turkeys in a transport cage with bars. The animals have partly featherless skin and injuries.
© L214 - Ethique & Animaux

Support by Expertise for Animals

Marietheres Reinke,Veterinarian and Co-Founder of Expertise for Animals, reviewed the footage and formulated an assessment of the scenes of loading and transport conditions. A summary of the most important points of the veterinarian can be found in the press release of L214:

“The pictures show considerable psychological and physical stress for the animals. The rough handling is a major problem for their well-being and causes unnecessary suffering.

From a veterinary point of view and in terms of animal welfare, the loading practice as well as the design of the cages must be fundamentally questioned in order to avoid the current abuse of turkeys. This practice must be stopped.”

If you click [SHOW SENSITIVE CENTENT], you will see how turkeys are violently caught and put into transport cages.

In focus: the concerned turkeys

The entire assessment takes about one page and focuses on the affected turkeys. Marietheres Reinke presents the severe effects of the loading and transport conditions for the birds:

As a veterinarian who cares about the welfare of animals, I see a number of negative impacts on the welfare of turkeys shown in the footage. The images show considerable psychological and physical stress for the turkeys.

The transport process, from catching, crating to the transport itself, is associated with fear, stress and pain for turkeys. The rough handling of the birds is a major threat to their welfare and causes unnecessary suffering. Violently cramming the big birds into low crates is a common standard to cope with the tight time schedule.

Feathers, wings, tail and legs are painfully bent. Slamming the heavy birds into the crates and kicking them to fit in more animals quickly can result in bruises and even painful fractures.

The massive birds are in stark contrast to the crate height. Unfortunately, transporting turkeys in small crates is seen as the least burdensome method. But this is a misguided trade-off to prevent transport-related injuries like scratches.

Yes, transportation should not cause these injuries. But stuffing them in low transport boxes violates the demand of the European Regulation on the protection of animals during transport that transport should not be carried out if injury or unnecessary suffering could be caused to the animals. Furthermore it places the value of carcass quality over the experience of turkeys while being subjected to one of the most stressful events in their life.

The low crates prevent the turkeys from standing upright in a natural posture, stretching or even turning around. Due to the lack of space, they squat instead in an unphysiologically stooped position.

The uneven distribution of body weight due to the oversized chest muscles aggravates the situation. Many animals lie on their chests, although this posture is particularly painful for the animals, as they often suffer from pectoral muscle problems and breast skin lesions.

Several turkeys sit tightly packed in transport cages that are too low.
© L214 - Ethique & Animaux

Furthermore the low transport boxes also prevent a sufficiently large air space above the birds' heads. The lack of ventilation is particularly fatal as birds are very susceptible to heat stress. While the turkeys placed outside are at least in contact with freely circulating air, the extent of fresh air supply for the birds in the middle of the transporter is difficult to assess.

From a veterinary and animal welfare point of view, the loading practice as well as the design of the transport crates should be fundamentally questioned to prevent the current abuses turkeys have to endure.

Scratches and injuries of the skin should be prevented, but with the currently used crate design this is at the expense of the animals. The practice is highly disproportionate, presents a major dilemma within turkey production and must be stopped."

The goal of the campaign

L214 is taking legal action against the breeding farm and the slaughterhouse. Furthermore, the organization also sees the French authorities and the European Commission as responsible. It demands a meeting with the European Commission.

The main objective: an action plan so that the turkey industry stops using the low transport cages. L214 had already found this violation during the transport of the animals last summer in front of the same slaughterhouse.

On an animal transporter, turkeys are stored in cramped transport cages stacked on top of each other.
© L214 - Ethique & Animaux

Effective work for social change

Expertise for Animals supports national and international organizations that are active on behalf of non-human animals. We provide expert information and promote their work with our expertise and experience.

L214 is one of the largest animal protection organizations in France. Since 2008, it has been publishing undercover footage and campaigning for the rights of farmed animals. With its current campaign, L214 is taking action on several levels:

● Educating consumers about conditions in the turkey industry

● Concrete demands on political decision-makers

● Animal welfare legal action against the farms

With the help of Expertise for Animals' professional position, L214 makes its content-related work credible and effective. The seriousness and validity of the campaign, the accompanying petition and the educational work increase.

This strengthening of the animal movement is an important part of gradually achieving our vision: A world in which all sentient beings have the freedom to lead a self-determined life and are respected as individuals!

Here is all the information about the campaign and the petition:

Update and distancing from 16.08.2022

A few weeks after the publication, a French newspaper article came to our attention. The article takes up the campaign of L214 and the statement of our Co-Founder, Marietheres Reinke, about the footage. The article describes the circumstances of the turkey farming, and uses equations with the Holocaust and thus relativizes it.

The comparisons of factory farming and the Holocaust as well as a frequently associated weighing against each other are unfortunately again and again part of animal protection and animal rights debates (Speit, A., 2021). Such statements stage the Holocaust as one crime among many and relativize it. Therein lies a defense against memory and guilt and denies the singularity of the Shoah (Holocaust).

The Shoah is characterized by its singularity and can not be compared to the exploitation of non-human animals in agricultural farming. The central difference is that the Holocaust used killing as an end in itself and had extermination as its goal. In agricultural animal husbandry, on the other hand, the focus is on the multiplication of profit. Animals are not killed to destroy them, but to make a profit.

Since we consider Holocaust relativization and the handling of it to be relevant and important, we will deal with the topic in greater depth in the future. As an organization, it is important for us to position ourselves on this issue and also to distance ourselves from it in awareness of our position as descendants of the perpetrators.

Further literature:

Rensmann, L. (2004). Demokratie und Judenbild: Antisemitismus in der politischen Kultur der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Springer-Verlag, in particular p. 91 ff.

Speit, A. (2021). Verqueres Denken. Ch.Links Verlag, p. 213.




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