Happy birds at Christmas: RSPCA-approved turkey

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 14th December 2010

TurkeyAustralia’s first RSPCA Approved turkey will be ready just in time for Christmas, with all of Coles’ Finest fresh turkeys bearing the welfare-friendly label this year.

“Demand for higher welfare food has never been stronger and with turkey a staple for many Australian families at Christmas time the RSPCA has teamed up with Coles to provide a more ethical option for turkey lovers,” said RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil.

Last year, Coles obtained FREPA (Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia) accreditation for its turkeys. This year, the new RSPCA Approved Free Range turkeys will be available nationally from December 18. The turkeys are sourced from RSPCA Approved farms in the Hunter Valley.

“On RSPCA Approved farms, turkeys can move freely inside and outside, socialise, perch, forage for food, dust bathe and scratch in the dirt. These most basic of needs aren’t afforded to turkeys in conventional farming systems,” said Neil.

Coles General Manager of Meat, Allister Watson, says that the move to RSPCA Approved Free Range turkeys follows increased consumer demand for more ethical choices.

“Consumers continue to tell us that they are concerned about the welfare of animals, and this is even more evident at Christmas time. That’s why we’ve been working hard with our suppliers and the RSPCA to help customers clearly identify which turkeys meet the RSPCA’s tough free range standards.

“We’re expecting to sell over 30,000 free range turkeys this Christmas, including 55 per cent more free range whole turkeys than last year,” said Watson.

Turkey is the latest addition to the RSPCA’s Approved Farming Scheme, which so far provides high welfare standards for layer hens, pigs and meat chickens.

RSPCA Approved farming aims to improve the lives of the millions of farm animals raised for food in Australia every year by getting them out of conventional systems and onto farms that better meet their needs.

“The RSPCA believes that whether it’s chicken, ham or turkey, you can enjoy your Christmas lunch and still care about the animals that provided it. In fact this is the first Christmas that all three of those traditional favourites have been so readily available and that makes this a great Christmas for progress in animal welfare,” said Neil.