Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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February 9, 2007 -- Number 5, Volume 7

1. FIRST CASE OF H5N1 FLU IN U.K. COMMERCIAL POULTRY

The first documented case of the H5N1 avian flu in commercial poultry in England has occurred at a facility operated by Bernard Matthews, Europe's largest turkey producer. (Company employees were convicted last autumn of assaulting live turkeys, see: http://tinyurl.com/296no8) The outbreak wasn’t reported until two days after chicks began to die from it. All 159,000 turkeys on the premises were then killed and incinerated. (http://tinyurl.com/25navy) Fifteen workers were initially employed to catch the birds “put them in plastic crates and on to trucks which were sent to the factory to be gassed.” The company offered bonuses to get it done quickly. One worker explained: "We were working very, very fast. We were getting the birds into the boxes - bang, bang, bang as we were offered the bonus for speed."

The company has acknowledged that it may be responsible for the outbreak due to its importation of tons of partially processed turkey meat from Hungary, where an outbreak of H5N1 occurred last month. DNA analysis has shown the flu strains to likely be identical. Bernard Matthews is also being investigated for breaking European Union hygiene regulations by leaving processed poultry outside. The Times Online states: “The multi-millionaire faces the possible collapse of his poultry empire if alleged irregularities are proven.”

All bird-related events have been indefinitely banned throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Outbreaks of H5N1 in European domestic poultry have also occurred in Denmark, France, Germany and Sweden. The virus has been detected in wild birds in Europe in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. Four people died in Turkey last year from catching the H1N5 form of the virus from their domestic poultry flock. Various countries have begun banning British poultry. Additional details at: http://tinyurl.com/34q5v3


BRITAIN CULLS 159,000 TURKEYS IN OUTBREAK OF H5N1 BIRD FLU
Environment News Service, February 5, 2007
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2007/2007-02-05-01.asp

WORKERS TELL OF TURKEY CULL
EDP24, Jules Stevens, Feb. 6, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/3yqjnx

BERNARD MATTHEWS ADMITS 'POSSIBLE' HUNGARIAN BIRD FLU LINK
Times Online, Philippe Naughton & Valerie Elliott, Feb. 9, 2007
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1358254.ece


2. LIFE FOR A U.K. TURKEY

The majority of the 22 million turkeys produced for meat in the U.K. each year are intensively raised. BBC News has an on-line article exzplaining how the birds are raised, caught, slaughtered and processed. It features an aerial layout of an intensive confinement facility. The article notes: “Turkeys can live up to 10 years in the wild. Indoor-farmed turkeys are usually slaughtered between 12 and 21 weeks. Many free-range operations insist on a minimum of about 20 weeks.” It mentions that health problems result from genetic selection for rapid weigh gain, and considers stocking density: “Industry and government standards use a formula based on the weight of the birds. They recommend a minimum floor area per bird, in enclosed housing, of 0.026 square metres per kilogram [0.3 sq. ft./2.2 lbs.] - a maximum stocking density of 40kg per square metre” [88 lbs./10.8 sq. ft.].

In comparison, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)’s newly revised Welfare Standards for Turkeys sets a maximum stocking density of 25kg/sq. m. [55 lbs./10.8 sq. ft.]. The revised standards also prohibit beak amputation of turkeys raised in “controlled environment housing.” The degree of footpad burn of each flock is also to be recorded.


HOW TURKEY FARMS WORK
BBC News, Feb. 6, 2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/6333073.stm

RSPCA REVISES ITS TURKEY WELFARE STANDARDS
Poultry World, Jan. 29, 2007
http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2007/01/29/101245/rspca-revises-its-turkey-welfare-standards.html


3. LUMLEY: SPARE A THOUGHT FOR TURKEYS

While a “frail” looking Bernard Matthews laments "I've absolutely had my fill of this"   (http://tinyurl.com/yrgyj8 ), Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley urges readers to “spare a thought for…the 20 million turkeys we rear for flesh each year in the U.K.,” in a commentary published in The Independent. Writing as a patron of the farmed animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming, Lumley asserts: “The scientific finger is beginning to point to the proliferation and intensity of poultry factory farms as a major factor in the spread of H5N1 and other types of avian flu,” later referring to these facilities as “recipe for a disease disaster.” She points out: “We know intensive poultry farming has proliferated in south-east Asia and China. And it is in this region that H5NI has taken hold. But not in Laos, which provides an interesting case history. In Laos, poultry farming is still mainly backyard and free range. Only 13 per cent of the industry is intensive. Yet 93 per cent of the H5N1 outbreaks in Laos have been in these intensive farms.” Lumley concludes: What is going on in our factory farms isn't fair - we're not doing right by the animals…Isn't it time to wean ourselves off cheap meat at any cost?… Let's…buy only free-range or organic, where the birds are given a decent life. Let's put windows in those sheds, so we can no longer hide from the grisly horrors they contain.”

An anonymous account of a week spent undercover at the infected Bernard Matthews farm/processing facilty was published by the Daily Record:
http://tinyurl.com/354bhw


JOANNA LUMLEY: SPARE A THOUGHT FOR ALL THOSE TURKEYS
The Independent, Comment, Joanna Lumley, February 8, 2007
http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article2248755.ece


4. BIRD FLU BOOK AND VIDEO FREE ON-LINE

“Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching,” a book by Dr. Michael Greger, director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture for The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), is now available for free on-line in its entirety at: http://www.BirdFluBook.org A related four-minute video is also freely available which offers “a concise overview of the relationship between factory farming and bird flu.”


5. SALMONELLA OUTBREAK IN SWEDEN, DESPITE CLAIMS

"Sweden has achieved efficient control of Salmonella, despite the industrialisation of animal production," the Swedish Poultry Meat Association states on its website. The country claims to have the lowest Salmonella infection rates of European Union poultry flocks. (A European Commission study last year found that among EU states Luxembourg and Sweden had the lowest levels of Salmonella infection rates in their poultry flocks.) These assertions were shaken this week, however, when 100,000 chickens were put to death in what is thought to be the country’s largest Salmonella outbreak in poultry in a decade. Birds at seven farms in Sweden tested positive for the bacteria, leading to the intentional killing of the chickens.

SWEDEN CULLS POULTRY DUE TO SALMONELLA INFECTION
Food Production Daily, Ahmed ElAmin, Feb. 8, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2s6udp


6. N.M. COCKFIGHTING BAN ADVANCES; HSUS SUES AMAZON.COM

Following a five-hour debate, the New Mexico Senate approved a ban on cockfighting by a 31-11 vote. The bill now goes to the House, where it is considered to have an even better chance. Penalties were weakened prior to the bill’s passage. Organizing or participating in a cockfight would be illegal, with a third offense required before it would be a felony which then would be punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Observing a cockfight would not be illegal. Governor Bill Richardson’s, a presidential candidate, now supports a ban as do the state’s three Roman Catholic bishops. It faces opposition by some rural residents who are anxious that rodeos and such practices as calf roping, branding and castration could be targeted next. "You're just going to drive it underground," said N.M. Sen. Phil Griego, "You're going to criminalize 300 years of tradition." At least 13 counties and 29 municipalities in New Mexico already prohibit cockfighting, and Louisiana is the only other state where it is legal. It also continues to be popular in Puerto Rico, where it has been legal since 1933: http://tinyurl.com/2sonl6

Following 19 months of discussion between The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and Amazon.com, HSUS has sued Amazon for selling two cockfighting magazines and two videos depicting dogfights. The magazines' publishers and distributors are also named in the suit. In addition, the organization has also asked the King County (Wa.) prosecutor to pursue civil proceedings against the Seattle-based Internet retailer. HSUS asserts that selling the magazines and videos violates federal animal-cruelty laws. The company has agreed to remove dogfighting videos, which it originally said it would do last July. However, it maintains that the cockfighting magazines are legal and that refusing to sell them would constitute censorship. HSUS counters that it is not going after free speech but illegal conduct: shipping the items.

SENATE APPROVES COCKFIGHTING BAN AFTER LENGTHY DEBATE
The Times-Picayune/Associated Press, Tim Korte, Feb. 7, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2ryrmp

COCKFIGHTERS CONCEDE CHANCES OF AVOIDING BAN DIM
KATC/The Associated Press (Deborah Baker)
http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=6041766

AMAZON.COM KEEPING COCKFIGHT MAGAZINES DESPITE LAWSUIT THREAT
The Associated Press, Curt Woodward, Feb. 7, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/3bdf6o

HUMANE SOCIETY SUES AMAZON.COM OVER COCKFIGHTING MAGAZINES
The Seattle Times, Jonathan Martin, Feb. 8, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2ormef


7. WHOLE FOODS MAKING EXCEPTION TO LOBSTER BAN

Whole Foods will make an exception to its ban on selling live lobsters when it opens its first store in Maine next week. In June the natural-foods retailer said it would stop selling live lobsters and crabs since they could not be handled humanely (see item #2: http://tinyurl.com/2ub3dd ). However, it says the Maine store is close enough to lobster catching areas for its standards to be met. Whole Foods is contracting with Little Bay Lobster Co., of New Hampshire, for lobsters caught off of Maine. The company will use individual holding compartments to reduce stress. At the store, lobsters are to be kept in private compartments rather than together in a tank, and they will be electrocuted rather than boiled alive (again, see 2nd item: http://tinyurl.com/2ub3dd ).

WHOLE FOODS SAYS ITS BAN ON LOBSTER SALES WILL STAND -- EXCEPT IN MAINE
Boston Globe/Associated Press, February 7, 2007
http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2007/02/whole_foods_lob.html





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Compiled and edited by Cat Carroll and Mary Finelli, Farmed Animal Watch is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.