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Turkeys found in appalling conditions on Flemish farms

07:24 11/12/2022

Animal welfare organisation Animal Rights Belgium has released images of turkey farms in West and East Flanders that reveal appalling conditions for the animals.

“After several tip-offs, Animal Rights filmed heartbreaking images of crippled animals in three West and East Flemish turkey barns,” the organisation said.

“It is clear that the terminally ill turkeys are denied necessary care. Animals are living between trampled carcasses that have been there for at least days. Countless animals have leg problems, tumours and deformities that are downright horrific.”

The footage is said to have been taken within recent months, and Animal Rights Belgium said it had notified the appropriate authorities.

The organisation is also preparing a formal complaint against the three companies behind the farms.

Their report is deliberately timed: Supermarkets across the country are expecting an increase in turkey sales as a result of the winter holidays.

“The diseases of the animals, such as a giant head tumour, certainly did not appear in one night,” Animal Rights campaign coordinator Els Van Campenhout said of the conditions on the Flemish farms.

“The turkeys are literally dying before our eyes. Animal Rights considers this to be neglect and animal cruelty. Commercial turkey farming is a horror industry that does not need improvements but should instead be completely abolished.”

Footage shows a turkey with a tumour the size of a ping pong ball on its head, with severely deformed toes, stumbling through a barn.

There is also a turkey with a giant, sagging tumour on the chest, and another animal with a gaping, bleeding wound.

“The animals with painfully deformed toes and legs, leg growths or animals that simply cannot stand on their legs cannot be counted,” the organisation said.

“There are no signs of medical care to be seen.”

Animal Rights Belgium also levied sharp criticism for the housing conditions of the turkeys, injured or not: “The housing is below all standards. Carcasses that have clearly been in the barn for days are pushed into the dirty, muddy surface. The animals have to watch as their sick companions slowly perish and their deceased 'relatives' decay, teeming with maggots.”

Written by Helen Lyons