Earlier this month two Avara-managed turkey farms in Gloucestershire were targeted by animal rights activism group Viva, and footage taken of our birds. This has since been edited into a short video and released to the media, featuring three individual farms, one of which is not operated by Avara.
Footage of this nature is captured to support the aims of the group promoting it, and as such, will always focus on a few isolated examples in an otherwise healthy flock; ordinarily any welfare concerns are identified quickly and resolved. Health records support this and subsequent Red Tractor audits are evidence both farms are well run overall. In our review of the video content relating to our farms, we note the vast majority of the birds, typically shown only in the background, are healthy, clean and mobile.
Based on the evidence we’ve seen, the behaviour of one of the third-party catching team has no place in our business and we understand that, once identified, the team member will be suspended pending a thorough investigation. That person will be barred from working at any Avara-operated farm in the future.
Unfortunately, the footage shows there are important details about turkeys and modern farming that the activists do not understand. Alarmingly they’ve trespassed during an international avian influenza outbreak, in an area of high risk and magnified the likelihood of transmission by entering multiple farms.
Furthermore, the impact of their disruption in the turkey houses should have been obvious but appears to have gone unnoticed; the turkeys in the footage demonstrate obvious vocal cues and physical signs of fear and distress, and some of the sparring in the footage was, in our view, a direct result of the activists' presence. Turkeys are creatures of habit and routine, and any deviation from this, particularly during resting periods is likely to result in aggressive behaviour. These are concerns any farmer would appreciate, and are factored into our farming practices, but are clearly not understood by these activists.