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Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 19:32 GMT
Turkeys saved from Christmas chop
The turkeys were destined for the Christmas market
Fifty turkeys have been rescued from the chop, just weeks before they were due to reach their final end on Christmas dinner plates.

The birds were stuffed in "appalling conditions" at a farm near Keady in south Armagh, according to the USPCA.

The animal charity also saved seven geese and two pigs in the joint operation with police and Department of Agriculture officials.

A file is being prepared with a view to prosecuting the owner for cruelty.

He has several previous convictions for animal cruelty and has twice been banned from keeping animals. One of those bans is still in force.

USPCA spokesman Stephen Philpott said workers at the charity were now looking after the animals.

"The conditions were absolutely appalling, animals living in their own filth," he said.

Turkeys at the farm
The turkeys were kept in poor conditions
"Most of them had no access to daylight and no dry bedding or food."

He said it was somebody trying to make a "fast buck" for Christmas.

Vet Liam Fitzsimons said it was obvious the animals had been "kept in very damp, wet and unsanitary conditions".

"You've had feather loss, possibly even feather-pecking, for there's feathers missing from the top of the wings, and stress that can lead to cannibalism in turkeys," he said.

The future of the animals will now be decided by a magistrate, but the USPCA will recommend to the police that the farmer is again charged with cruelty.

Gordon Adair reports from County Armagh

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