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