Dozens of animal rights activists spent much of their labour day at a southern Alberta farm engaged in what they are calling a “liberation lockdown” for turkeys.
Some 80 people attended the protest against factory farming.
About 50 people lined the highway to Jumbo Valley turkey barns, near Fort Macleod, holding signs calling for an end to commercial poultry farms.
Another 30 planted themselves inside the barns with turkeys destined to be slaughtered later this month.
“It’s full of turkeys. They are going to be slaughtered at about 14 weeks of age,” animal activist Trev Miller told CBC News.
“There are about 4,000 turkeys in the barn right now.”
Miller says turkeys in commercial facilities often experience overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. He says healthy birds can live among diseased or dead animals.
“As long as these commercial turkey farms exist, there will be injustices and ways that animals are treated disrespectfully. We are opposed to these industries existing,” he said.
Regulated, law-abiding, says company
The manager of Jumbo Valley Colony, the operation’s owner, says they are fully regulated and follow all animal welfare and food safety standards.
Tom Tschetter says the group demanded a tour of the operation and the right to remove five birds, but they didn’t want to have a dialogue.
“We were totally surprised. The guy that works there thought ‘What’s going on?’ But they don’t talk to you, they don’t want to really talk.”
Tschetter says the group trespassed when members entered the barns, and he worries the activists could actually do more harm than good.
“If you’re scared about being bad to turkeys, well you are transferring disease from one environment to another walking into the barn,” he said.
RCMP on scene
RCMP kept an eye on the event and helped find a middle ground.
“They got a tour with the RCMP, along with the farmers that were there,” RCMP spokesperson Const. Chantelle Kelly told CBC News.
“They got to do a tour of the other turkey barns at the farm. Another thing they were looking for, was to rescue — according to them — rescue or take five turkeys out of there.”
Meanwhile, Miller says the five turkeys will be sent to an animal sanctuary northeast of Calgary.
Turkey Farmers of Canada says Canadians consumed about 154 million kilograms of turkey last year.
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