The Global Animal Partnership (GAP) is a nonprofit that has a mission to improve the lives of farm animals. To help customers make thoughtful choices about the meat they purchase, GAP has developed a 5-step rating system to rate the level of humane care that animals receive. From step 1 to step 5+ each step has its own requirements which must be met and certified before the particular step level can be assigned. Diestel embraces strict animal welfare practices, and when it comes to GAP ratings, it’s no surprise that Diestel was the first turkey producer to achieve the highest GAP 5+ rating on our Pasture Raised Holiday Turkey.
In addition to our pasture raised turkeys, we also raise turkeys in accordance with other GAP step standards. While you can learn more about the GAP step ratings located on their website, globalanimalpartnership.org, we thought it might be helpful to quickly summarize the step ratings. Before we do that, it is important to note that becoming GAP Step 1 rated is an achievement in itself and most farmers have to make quite a few adjustments to meet the GAP standards. In a Step 1 system, the birds typically live in a stationary housing structure and are provided extra space to express natural behavior. In a Step 2 system the birds also live indoors and are offered environmental enrichments. This adds to the complexity of their living area, encouraging natural behaviors such as pecking, scratching and increased exploration/play. Additionally toe-nail conditioning isn’t allowed at this step rating or higher. Moving into a Step 3 rating the birds live just as the previous step rating and are offered seasonal outdoor access. Pasture centered farming practices start at GAP Step 4 where turkeys live on pasture from the age of 7-weeks while still maintaining access to housing or shelter. Daily access to the outdoors is paramount and from this step rating and higher beak conditioning is not allowed. Moving into GAP Step 5 the birds live continuously on pasture and may be housed only during extreme weather conditions. This step requires slower growing breeds that have the ability to perch. The highest rating GAP 5+ goes one step further as this rating denotes the turkeys spend their entire lives on a single farm and are processed on the farm which they are raised.
Going beyond GAP…At Diestel we have always promoted the most sustainable and natural environments for our birds. We go the extra mile for our birds spreading fresh pine-wood shavings in our barns to receive new poults. The birds’ feed is never pelletized but rather milled fresh daily and is 100% vegetarian free from animal by-products, antibiotics and hormones. Our slow growing feed ratios ensure we don’t push the turkeys to grow up fast or larger than what is naturally intended. On the contrary our thoughtfully raised birds grow slowly and naturally, with plenty of fresh air and room to roam, whether indoors or outdoors.
Our commitment to farming practices that are respectful to the animals and land ultimately result in a wholesome turkey and have been perfected over the past 67-years that our family has owned and operated our farms. As climatic, environmental and regulatory changes continue to strain natural resources we have adjusted and adapted to more sustainable methods. Everyday and every year we look for ways to raise our turkeys that are better for the bird and better for the environment. Composting our waste, filtering and reusing our water and overall maintaining balance between nature and farming is a commitment we make every day and is a challenge we look forward to solving generation after generation.
Learn more about GAP and Jason Diestel’s involvement with the GAP program.