Winter Spring 2007 - 2008 Poultry Press

United Poultry Concerns, Animals’ Angels Plead for Turkeys in Des Moines Register

Cold is cold, no matter how you measure it

Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa USA, Nov. 30, 2007

Regarding “Group: Turkey Deliveries in Cold Make Birds Suffer” (Nov. 21): Celsius or Fahrenheit – it does not matter. What matters is that temperatures on Jan. 25 [2007] when a truckload of turkeys were shipped were freezing cold.

Animals’ Angels investigators followed an uncovered turkey truck for four hours that afternoon from south of Des Moines to the Sara Lee slaughter plant in Storm Lake. Photos show ice and snow stuck to the metal transport cages in which the turkeys were huddled.

They sat for two more hours in the cold as the truck waited in line to enter the plant. Under such conditions, turkeys are susceptible to painful frostbite, hypothermia, and death.

We presented a joint press release to the Register’s Philip Brasher stating our reasons for urging Sara Lee to cover its trucks with tarpaulins, sideboards and/or other protective devices in cold weather – a simple act of kindness that would reduce much suffering for these birds.

We were disappointed and frankly surprised by the shallowness and flippancy of the coverage that took precedence over substantive reporting on this issue.

Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns (

Sonja Meadows, Executive Director of Animals’ Angels USA (


Responding to our concerns, Sara Lee claims the company “adheres to strict animal welfare guidelines established by the National Turkey Federation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” However, note the following points:

First, “guidelines” are not requirements. Though better than nothing since they establish professed minimum standards and are thus a touchstone for judging what is actually being done, they are not binding.

Second, the U.S. Department of Agriculture intentionally excludes from livestock transport regulations (which aren’t enforced anyway) the 10 billion turkeys, chickens, ducks and other birds being trucked to slaughter every year in the United States.

Third, the National Turkey Federation’s “Market Live Haul” section of its Animal Care Best Management Practices for the Production of Turkeys Guidelines merely says regarding weather protection for the birds: “Truck travel, distances, weather and other factors can affect the birds’ well-being enroute and must be considered. . . . Wind protection in winter and water cooling in summer is important to minimize stress.” The Guidelines can be read at To view Animals’ Angels’ investigative video, click on:

A simple act of kindness would reduce much suffering for these birds.”

Sara Lee Foods includes Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean and Ball Park brand names.

  • Tell Sara Lee President Brenda Barnes how shocked you are to learn how cruel the company is to these poor birds. Urge Sara Lee to cover its trucks taking turkeys to slaughter with tarpaulins and sideboards. Request a written reply.

Brenda C. Barnes, President, CEO
Sara Lee Corporation
3500 Lacey Road
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
Phone: 630-598-8661
Fax: 630-598-8653

National Turkey Federation (trade association for the U.S. turkey industry)

  • Urge the National Turkey Federation to develop and implement a strict transport policy including specific insulation devices such as tarpaulins and sideboards for protecting turkeys from frigid temperatures, humidity and cold winds.

Ted Seger, Chairman
Joel Brandenberger, President
National Turkey Federation
1225 New York Avenue NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-898-0100
Fax: 202-898-0203 about.html

  • For more information on our Sara Lee campaign, please go to www.upc-online.organd click on Sara Lee.


Winter Spring 2007- 2008 Poultry Press