Turkeys – transport

Information about the requirements for transporting turkeys from one location to another.

Turkeys must be transported using appropriate cages and in vehicles that are covered. Appropriate cages must have enough space to allow birds to lie down, stand up and change position during transport.

During transport, food and water must not be withheld from birds for a period longer than 24 hours.

During transportation, the cages used for carrying turkeys must:

  • be lifted and placed with care
  • be positioned on the vehicle in an upright position without excessive tilting
  • not be dropped or thrown
  • be securely attached to the vehicle.

Turkeys must not be transported:

  • in bags
  • with legs tied
  • in the boot of a car.
Approved activities Category
Loading and unloading animals onto transporters 3

Transporting poultry is a stressful process for them. Stress arises from catching, handling, deprivation of food, water and freedom of natural movement, changes in temperature and unfamiliar surroundings. Care must be exercised to ensure that poultry are not subjected to unnecessary stress during catching, loading, transportation and unloading. During transport, food and water must not be withheld from birds for a period longer than 24 hours.

Turkeys selected for transport must be healthy, fit for travel and must not be sick, weak or injured. Birds that are fit for transport must be carefully loaded into appropriate clean crates or cages that are large enough for each bird to stand, lay down, move to change position and slightly raise their wings.

Cages should have floors constructed of ridged material designed to prevent any part of the bird protruding during travel. Cages must not have protrusions, sharp edges or hinges and latches projecting into the cage. They need to be well ventilated and be of sufficient height to allow birds to stand, lie down and change position. Locking mechanisms to prevent escape during transport must be fitted. Avoid transporting birds in high temperatures, as turkeys are particularly susceptible to heat stress. Birds must not be overcrowded in cages as they can trample one another if there is not enough room. When transporting small groups of birds to shows or between properties avoid placing more than one tom together or birds that have previously displayed aggression toward one another.

Catching and handling turkeys can be the most stressful aspect of transport for both bird and handler. Injury during catching and handling can be severe and so special care must be taken to avoid this. Individual birds should be caught and picked up carefully by standing behind the bird, wrapping both arms around the chest of the bird and bringing its back up to your chest to control and support the wings.

Never pick a turkey up by the legs. Turkeys need to be handled particularly carefully, avoiding placing extra strain on their legs due to their large body mass. After picking up the birds they should be placed into the crate or cage immediately. Prepare the crates by opening the doors and placing them close by prior to catching the bird to minimise time holding the animal and prevent risk of injury and escape. Cages must be placing in the vehicle in an upright position and must be protected from wind, high and low temperature, rain, sleet and direct sunlight. Transportation should never exceed 12 hours and turkeys must be checked regularly throughout transport for signs of illness, trampling, injury, stress of suffering from heat or cold.

Primary responsibility when transporting birds rests with the owner. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure birds are fit, healthy and disease free prior to transport and poses no risk of spreading disease, illness or parasite to other animals on different properties. It is important to be aware of the current disease status in the area and be aware of all transporting regulation for the species.

It is important to have good knowledge of the disease status of animals prior to bringing them onto the school farm. This may involve vaccinations, parasite control and even blood tests where applicable. Advice from the local veterinarian or livestock officer should be sought.

It is a good idea to quarantine new birds from existing birds for a period of time. This should allow time for observation of any signs of illness or parasite infestations.

Land transport guidelines provides further information about the transport of poultry.


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