Turkeys chill before facing the music

TURKEYS never enjoy this time of year - but they are being given a reason to shake their tail feathers this Christmas.The National Farmers Union (NFU) is sending turkey farmers music CDs to stop their birds having any foul moods.

TURKEYS never enjoy this time of year - but they are being given a reason to shake their tail feathers this Christmas.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is sending turkey farmers music CDs to stop their birds having any foul moods.

The relaxation CDs feature a Turkey Top 10 designed to have a positive calming influence on the birds.

They include monks chanting, wind chimes, whale noises, trotting horses, farmyard sounds and the gobbling of happy turkeys.


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Turkey farmer Mick Binder from Rumburgh, near Halesworth, said the CD was a hit with his 3,000 birds.

"The monks' chanting was the best – that has the biggest calming effect. I would definitely play my turkeys some more of that," he said.

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"Turkeys get spooked by sudden noises or actions and any music that cuts out background noise is good for a calming effect.

"It's only a short CD and I would prefer a longer one of a particular tune. It's a very good idea but a bit late in the day because the turkeys are soon to be plucked."

The NFU drew up the experiment after consultation with animal behaviour experts from the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh.

Farmers involved in the NFU's turkey hotline, a dedicated number to put shoppers in touch with their nearest farm selling fresh turkeys for Christmas, are taking part.

NFU turkey spokesman Mike Bailey said: "It is well known among farmers that a background of constant sound calms birds, probably because it drowns out unexpected noise.

"British farmers care about their animals so now we want to put this theory to the test and get a definitive answer which will help turkey producers in future years.

"Our Turkey Top 10 includes many naturally calming sounds that we hope will have a positive affect on the turkeys' behaviour. There won't be a Birdie Song in sight."

Farmers signed up to the turkey hotline have been spent the CD with a survey form to fill out.

Last year, 114 farmers signed up to the scheme after paying a £20 subscription. It received 1,400 calls and generated £50,000 income.

Mr Bailey added: "By choosing a turkey straight from the farm, shoppers are assured of buying good quality and value fresh local meat raised to high animal welfare standards."

The hotline number is 0870 060 3436. It will operate from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, ending on Christmas Eve. Calls are charged at the national rate.

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