AS shoppers filled their larders with seasonal fare, Animal Aid visited one randomly selected turkey farm.

The scenes we filmed were deeply disturbing. A large barn, divided into six areas, held hundreds of birds, destined to be the centrepiece at many a festive meal.

Many of the birds were feather-pecked and covered in muck, and suffering from deformed feet and legs.

Some were so ill that they were unable to raise themselves from the filthy floor. On top of the feed bins inside sheds lay dead birds.

Outside, and in apparent contravention of government biosecurity regulations, were three mounds, covered by tarpaulins, which were held in place by old tyres.

The smell was stomach-churning and gave a clear indication of their contents: dead birds, entrails, feathers and blood. Who knows from what illnesses these birds died or how much they had suffered?

The sad truth is that modern turkey farming is fraught with suffering, and I urge all readers to extend kindness and compassion to all living beings this year - and that includes turkeys.

Anyone wishing to see photographs or film from our investigation, or discover tasty, meat-free Christmas recipes, can visit our website:

KATE FOWLER-REEVES, Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent.