Toronto Globe : Winnipeg Turkey’s Life Good to the Last Gobble

They still end up on a Thanksgiving table. But the turkeys at the Organic Bread Basket in Winnipeg have enjoyed a better, if not longer, life than most.

As the first turkeys in North America to be “Certified Humane,” they lead lives billed as being “stress-free,” eat an antibiotic-free diet and grow up in pastures where they can engage in a lifestyle denied to most turkeys.

That means they can roll in the dust to clean their feathers, climb on top of sheds and preen in the moonlight, and run across fields in pursuit of insects.

They are still slaughtered after 20 weeks, but with a method that avoids causing pain. (They’re hit with a stun gun before their necks are broken.)

“Death is the end point for all of us. But how we live is what is important,” said Helene Bouvier, owner of Organic Bread Basket. “If we can improve the quality of a turkey’s life and the ease and peacefulness of its death, then that is a good thing.”

The company markets 20,000 turkeys a year from several different growers under the label Pop’s Farms. They are available in specialty and natural-food shops in Toronto and Winnipeg, and in some Whole Foods stores in the United States.

The movement to treat farm animals more compassionately began in Europe, including Britain, where the Humane Farm Animal Care program was developed with the help of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.