Grove Smith Turkeys charges premium rates for the birds, which are sold under the English Rose Turkey brand, which markets itself as a “high welfare”, and “prestigious” brand.
A representative image of a roast turkey (Image courtesy: Reuters)
According to a report by The Independent, secret cameras placed at the Essex farm — which supplies high-end grocery stores, and butchers — filmed several of the birds, which seemed unable to walk or defend themselves from being pecked and even eaten alive, according to the activists who placed the cameras.
Toni Shephard, the head of Animal Equality UK, the group that took the footage late last month and early this month, reportedly said that it revealed some birds were experiencing “extreme suffering”. The grim footage shows a lame bird struggling to walk, and another with blood on its head and neck. Other turkeys were filmed pecking at and eating a carcass. At least one of the sheds in which they were kept seemed crowded and without adequate enrichment, which is what may have caused the birds to peck each other. You can view clips from the footage in a tweet posted by the group’s handle.
No Christmas dinner is worth this cruelty. pic.twitter.com/xOHJQWAkJo
— Animal Equality UK (@animal_equality) December 21, 2018
Animal health experts say that turkeys and chickens which are bred to grow quickly often cannot support their own weight, and so have difficulty moving around.
The farm denied the group’s claims of poor welfare, and said that the activists who filmed the turkeys had purposely manipulated the the footage to present a misleading scene of poor conditions, and that the farm was committed to rearing happy, healthy birds.