Editor’s Note: Please watch a beautiful story from PBS following this article- My Life As A Turkey
Sources: Huffington Post, The Guardian, NYDailyNews, Mercy for Animals, NBC, iskcon, pbs
Less than a year after a Mercy For Animals (MFA) undercover investigation into a Butterball turkey facility led to five workers being charged with criminal cruelty to animals, a new investigation shows that animal abuse continues to run rampant at Butterball factory farms. But it seems Butterball — which raises a full 20 percent of the total turkey sold in the country every year, and 30 percent of the turkey eaten on Thanksgiving — hasn’t learned its lesson. Mercy for Animals released ANOTHER horrific video detailing turkey abuse at several Butterball plants in North Carolina.
In October of 2012, an MFA investigator documented a pattern of shocking abuse and neglect at numerous Butterball turkey operations in North Carolina, including:
- workers kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or on top of other birds;
- birds suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, and broken bones; and
- workers grabbing birds by their wings or necks and violently slamming them into tiny transport crates with no regard for their welfare.
- an employee callously notes that he’s seen maggots crawling all over the birds.
Dr. Greg Burkett, poultry welfare scientist and professor of avian medicine and surgery at North Carolina State University, lent his expert review to MFA’s hidden- camera footage. Dr. Burkett, who also accompanied Hoke County law enforcement officials during a raid at a Butterball turkey factory farm last year, stated of the video. “The abuses shown in this videoare identical to the abuses documented in last year’s Butterball investigation which led to criminal cruelty to animals charges and convictions. These behaviors are cruel, inhumane, and injurious to the birds. I am appalled at the
disrespect these workers have toward the lives of other living creatures.”
Dr. Sara Shields, a research scientist, poultry specialist, and consultant in animal welfare, said that this new investigation is “especially concerning” and that “under no circumstances is it acceptable to use violent force to move animals.”Following the investigation, MFA immediately went to law enforcement with extensive video footage and a detailed legal complaint outlining the culture of cruelty at Butterball. Law enforcement is investigating.
Unfortunately, the lives of turkeys in Butterball’s factory farms are short, brutal, and filled with fear, violence, and constant suffering. While wild turkeys are sleek, agile, and able to fly, Butterball’s turkeys have been selectively bred to grow so large, so quickly, that many of them suffer from painful bone defects, hip joint lesions, crippling foot and leg deformities, and fatal heart attacks.
Even though domestic turkeys have been genetically manipulated for enormous growth, these birds still retain their gentle, inquisitive, and social natures. Oregon State University poultry scientist Dr. Tom Savage says that turkeys are “smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings.” In fact, animal behaviorists, veterinarians, and scientists agree that turkeys
are sensitive and intelligent animals with their own unique personalities, much like the dogs and cats we all know and love.
Butterball, the country’s largest turkey producer, declined to address the allegations specifically. In a statement to NBCNews.com, the company said it is aware of the video and takes “any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously.”
Butterball said it has a long-standing zero tolerance policy for animal abuse and remains committed to the ethical and responsible care of its turkey flocks. The company said an internal investigation is under way and the workers in question have been suspended. “Any employee found to have violated our animal care and well-being guidelines, as well as any employee who witnessed abuse and failed to report it, will be terminated,” the company statement said. “When we learn of any instances of animal mistreatment, we take immediate corrective action to suspend workers involved, conduct a swift investigation and terminate their employment with the company.”
The Associated Press reports that in August, one of those workers pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty and was sentenced to only 30 days in jail and fined just $550.
This year, give the turkeys a reason to be thankful by carving out a new Thanksgiving tradition and digging in to any number of delicious vegetarian, turkey-free alternatives
Please watch this beautiful story from PBS- My Life As A Turkey.
After a local farmer left a bowl of eggs on Joe Hutto’s front porch, his life was forever changed as he became a new turkey mom!