Turkey farm's cruelty claim

The RSPCA has launched a criminal investigation into a local turkey farm after an undercover reporter discovered evidence of cruelty.

The RSPCA has launched a criminal investigation into a local turkey farm after an undercover reporter discovered evidence of cruelty.

White House Farm, of Blo' Norton, near Diss, has also been removed from the list of producers who supply meat to supermarkets under the RSPCA's Freedom Food banner, after Five News correspondent Jason Farrell witnessed birds with their eyes pecked out and others with horrific injuries.

He found dead and decaying birds kept in amongst the healthy animals as well as turkeys suffering from severe pecking injuries, and lame birds which should have been separated from the flock and either treated or humanely culled, when he visited the farm last week.

After witnessing the video evidence, the RSPCA found that the farm had decided to take the flock of birds in question off the Freedom Food programme without informing the charity. Birds from this flock were sold as Freedom Food up until Christmas time, but after that period they were no longer treated to the enhanced living conditions which come with the accreditation.

Freedom Food responded by immediately removing the farm from its list of suppliers.

Leigh Grant, chief executive of Freedom Food, said: 'We were shocked and horrified at the images on the video and, as a result, the RSPCA has launched a criminal investigation.

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'It is a clear responsibility of the members to notify the scheme if they decide at any time to reduce animals to other than the RSPCA standard. And in this case we were not aware.'

When asked if any of these birds could have been sold as Freedom Food since Christmas, Mr Grant continued: 'The size of the birds at the time of slaughter means they would not be suitable to be sold as table birds, which is how Freedom Food birds are sold.'

The farm is run by Redgrave Poultry, a subsidiary of Gressingham Foods, and the company has suspended use of the premises during the RSPCA investigation.

Stephen Urwin, of Redgrave Poultry, said: 'We take matters of animal health and welfare extremely seriously. We have invested substantially in improving standards at Redgrave Poultry over the past few years and have passed all assurance scheme audits.

'The standards shown in the Channel 5 footage are unacceptable and the use of this farm is being suspended until the investigation has been completed.'

He added: 'We are launching our own enquiry into any failings in the standards and systems at White House Farm. We will continue to work with the RSPCA, DEFRA and Freedom Food.'

Freedom Food is a farm assurance and food labelling scheme set up by the RSPCA in 1994 to improve farm animal welfare and address a growing consumer demand for higher welfare produce.