Our Heritage Black Turkey is certified GAP Step 4! Learn more »

Our Heritage Black Turkey is Certified GAP Step 4!

Our Heritage Black Turkey is Certified GAP Step 4!

November 16, 2017

We are proud to announce that our Heritage Black Turkey has officially achieved Step 4 certification in the Global Animal Partnership’s (GAP’s) 5-Step™ Animal Welfare program!

Global Animal Partnership Animal Welfare Program

The Global Animal Partnership (GAP) is a non-profit organization working to improve farm animal welfare. Their 5-Step™ Welfare Rating Program rates how farm animals are raised using “steps” - in order to achieve a higher certification, you must meet requirements for all steps below it as well.

The certification of our Heritage Black Turkeys came after an extensive audit of the small family farms in North Carolina where we raise them.

Heritage Black Turkeys on pasture

One of the reasons we chose to partner with GAP is their extensive auditing process. GAP works with third party certification companies instead of auditing and certifying on its own because they feel that “working with authorized, independent certifiers strengthens the integrity of the program, which benefits the producers, retailers, and consumers alike.” (Source) Farms and ranches are audited every 15 months, and audits are not limited to a few “example farms.”

GAP standards are extensive and vary depending on the animal being raised. Standards are focused around three core animal welfare components: health and productivity, emotional well being, and ability to live naturally.

Regardless of the animal, Step 1 certification requires compliance with over 120 standards like humane/safe handling of the animals, good quality food and water, no antibiotics, and plenty of space. After achieving Step 1, farms and ranches are encouraged to continue making improvements in order to qualify for certification in Steps 2-5+.

GAP Step 4 certified turkey operations like ours are pasture-centered systems. The turkeys start their lives indoors, where they are kept warm, with plenty of food and water, and are protected from predators. After 7 weeks of age, turkeys live on pasture with plenty of room to roam and strut and forage. During winter, turkeys may be housed but still maintain continuous access to the outdoors.

Joyce Farms Heritage Black Turkey

Other standards for GAP Step 4 certified turkey operations include (but are not limited to):

  • Breeds must be chosen for the ability to range, good immune systems, and for low levels of injurious behavior
  • Slow growth - Maximum average growth rate must not exceed 0.300 lbs (136 g) per day for toms or 0.192 lbs (87 g) per day for hens
  • A healthy pasture area with at least 50% coverage of vegetation and/or forage
  • No physical alterations such as beak trimming
  • When removed from pasture during winter months, the outdoor area must be equal to or greater than 100% of the total indoor floor space of the house. It also must include materials that encourage foraging behavior.

Heritage Black Turkeys on pasture

We are committed to the welfare and quality-of-life of all of our animals. By working with family farmers who are as passionate as we are about animal welfare, we have developed raising standards that ensure our animals live happy and healthy lives, growing naturally while embracing their natural behaviors. The result is more flavorful and nutritious meat for you and your family.

In addition to Joyce Farms' GAP 4 certified Heritage Black Turkey, we also offer a GAP Step 4 rated Heritage Poulet Rouge™ chicken, a GAP Step 2 rated Poulet Rouge™ Poussin, and GAP Step 4 rated Heritage Aberdeen Angus Beef

Read more about the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) and specific standards for GAP-certified turkey operations.