The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standards – Turkeys have been developed by RSPCA Australia to improve the welfare of turkeys on farm, during transport and at slaughter. The Standards cover various aspects of production including food and water, environment and housing, stocking density, management and health, catching, transport and slaughter in order to ensure good animal welfare outcomes for the birds throughout their lives.
The Standards are based on RSPCA policy, available scientific research, current legislation, codes of practice, standards and guidelines for animal welfare, veterinary and technical advice and current industry good practice.
For a turkey farm to become Approved under the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, an RSPCA Assessor must visit the farm to determine it is meeting the requirements of the Standards. Once Approved, the farm will receive regular visits from an Assessor (every 3 to 6 months) to ensure they are continually meeting the Standards and providing for the needs of the birds.
In Australia, turkeys are generally raised in large environmentally controlled sheds that may or may not provide access to an outdoor range area. Both indoor and outdoor production systems can be Approved under the Scheme as the RSPCA believes that either system, when managed accordingly, can provide for the behavioural and physiological needs of the birds. To learn more about the welfare issues associated with conventional turkey farming, please read the following article here.
Turkeys grown on an RSPCA Approved farm, transported and slaughtered in accordance with the Standards can then be marketed with the RSPCA logo. To find out where you can purchase RSPCA Approved turkey, visit the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme website.
Some of the requirements of the RSPCA turkeys standards are outlined below:
- Adequate food and water that provides for the birds’ requirements must be provided at all times.
- Turkeys must be provided with;
- good quality litter, maintained in a dry and friable condition, to allow for the birds behavioural needs to dust bathe, scratch and forage
- adequate perch space of at least 7.2m per 1000 birds
- environmental enrichment in the form of pecking objects
- visual barriers so they can seek refuge and rest from other birds.
- Maximum stocking density of 35kg per meter square (depending on bird weight)
- Provision of adequate light and dark periods (minimum 8 hours light and 4 hours continuous darkness in every 24 hour period)
- Minimum average light intensity of 20 lux across the shed floor
- Ammonia levels must not exceed 15ppm
- Beak trimming, when considered necessary to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism must only be carried out under certain conditions. The uses of blinkers or lenses are not permitted.
- Desnooding, dewinging and toe trimming must not be performed
- Weak, ill or injured birds must be humanely euthanised without delay.
- Birds must be monitored for signs of lameness and action taken to prevent it occurring in future flocks.
- Accurate records of mortalities, routine management practices and health challenges must be maintained and available to the RSPCA.
- All persons involved in handling and catching birds must be appropriately trained and competent.
- Maximum time off feed and water must not exceed 18 hours prior to slaughter
- Birds must be stunned prior to slaughter
To learn more about the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme or to download a copy of the Standards, please visit our website.