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March 29, 2023

Now online! Download the position paper on transportation of turkeys.

Veterinary position paper on extreme transport conditions

The French organization L214 is committed to abolishing practices that cause suffering in factory farming. Expertise for Animals supports them with veterinary expertise.

It is common practice in France and Germany to transport turkeys in low containers. The birds are forced to squat for hours in a bent-over position. Expertise for Animals co-founder and veterinarian Marietheres Reinke reviewed the scientific literature on this transport practice and developed an up-to-date position paper on transport with forced squatting.

Marietheres Reinke also supported L214 in a meeting with DG Sante, the European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Food Safety. She took on the role of communicating the key findings from the position paper.

The position paper is now available and can be downloaded from this page! We thank L214 for making the paper freely and easily accessible on our website.

Goals of the position paper

Animal welfare requirements are being revised at EU level. The position paper serves as an up-to-date basis to encourage the European authorities to raise the animal welfare level of the transport regulations as part of the revision.

The paper contains the requirement that the dimensions and design of the containers must be set in such a way that the turkeys have sufficient space without an increased risk of injury.

As few studies have been carried out on the design of transport cages, there is only limited evidence on how this can be implemented. Based on currently available data, the minimum height for transport crates for "fattening and breeding turkeys” should be 90 cm.

Only crates that allow separate individual housing or in which the animals are separated from each other by compartments should be used. They should allow easy access to the animals inside at all times.

It is particularly important for Expertise for Animals and L214 to point out that these requirements are only a detail improvement of the distressful transport conditions and do not solve the fundamental problems of transporting overbred and often sick turkeys.

Cruel transport practices

European law does not specify minimum sizes for transport containers. In practice, very low transport cages are common. They prevent the turkeys from standing in a natural position with their bodies upright and their heads stretched out. Some containers are so low that the turkeys cannot even stretch their heads upwards when squatting.

The animals suffer during loading, transport, waiting at the abattoir and unloading. Painful injuries such as bruises, broken bones and skin tears and even death can occur. The animals experience stress, pain, fear, discomfort and frustration.

Many turkeys already suffer from tibial dyschondroplasia (a form of leg weakness), lameness, pododermatitis and breast skin lesions due to overbreeding and housing conditions. The low crates aggravate their condition due to the restriction of movement.

The position paper explains the links between the animals' poor health and transport practices. In the appendix, the paper also summarizes the most important study results on the transport of turkeys in containers.

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Positionpaper Ending the transport of turkeys in low crates


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