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Turkey Law Update

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

In honour of thanksgiving we have reviewed our first turkey case. The moral is: be wary of the activities you engage next to a turkey farm, for you may expose yourself to liability.

The case in question is LeGrow's Poultry & Processors Ltd. v. King (1989CarswellNfld.69).

The Plaintiff had a turkey farm. The Defendants were constructing swimming and boating facilities nearby and needed to remove certain rocks. They could not remove the rocks with machinery and had to resort to blasting. Following is a quote from the case:

In order to understand what happened, it is necessary for me to mention something about the nature of turkeys. The problem is perhaps best expressed in the opening paragraph on turkey raising, in the Homesteader's Handbook to Raising Small Livestock by Jerome Belanger [Rodedale press,1974], a copy of which was introduced in evidence.

Turkeys are among the most difficult domestic fowl to raise. They are amazingly stupid-from the newly hatched poults who can starve to death while trampling in their feed because they haven't learned where to find it, to the hens who lay their eggs standing up... They are easily frightened. An acquaintance of mine who raised turkeys commercially went wild every Fourth of July because the fireworks in a nearby village invariably sent thousands of birds piling up in corners where they'd suffocate unless he waded in and unpiled them.

5 The evidence is that when a sudden loud noise occurs, the turkeys "crowd" into the corners of the barns, frantically leaping on top of each other in panic. Sudden noises can therefore cause a large number of injuries and deaths in a flock. The events of the 13th and 14th of August, 1986 have to be considered in the light of that propensity.

When he heard the blasting on August 13, Mr. Legrow rushed to the site of the blasting to voice his concerns. where he was called a troublemaker. The blasting continued; Mr. Legrow managed to de-stack the turkeys. Mr. Legrow talked do the Vice-Chair of the Defendant who agreed to delay further blasting so Mr. Legrow could be there. Unfortunately further blasting for some reason occurred the next day on the evening of the 14th with Mr. Legrow being unaware. 153 turkeys stacked themselves into a corner and died or had to be destroyed.

The Court found at 14: ...It seems to me that a reasonable person by the evening of the 14th, after the events of that day and the previous day would have had to know, and to foresee, that the sudden operation of a large gas powered pneumatic drill, would be likely to cause panic in the turkeys

So be cautious of your activities in the vicinity of turkey farms.

If you would like to discuss this or any other case please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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