Mercy for Animals (MFA) is well known for its undercover investigations of animal abuse and cruelty at factory farms. For three weeks between November and December 2011, an undercover investigator filmed egregious acts of cruelty and abuse of turkeys at a Butterball semen collection farm in Shannon, North Carolina.
Domestic turkeys bred for human consumption are genetically engineered to grow so large and so fast they cannot reproduce normally; hence, the semen farms. This biological manipulation also results in bone and joint deformities as well as fatal heart attacks.
Wild turkeys are agile; they can fly and partake in normal turkey behaviors like frolicking, leg stretching and dust-bathing. Butterball turkeys can’t — even if they were allotted the space to do so.
“Turkeys are fully capable of feeling pain, fear, stress and of suffering, and the way they are treated in the video is clearly abusive,” said Dr. Sara Shields, research scientist, poultry specialist and consultant in animal welfare. Care2 blogger Mac McDaniel wrote about a study that found chickens can feel empathy. Surely, that finding can be extrapolated to turkeys.
MFA filed a formal complaint with Hoke County District Attorney against Butterball resulting in a warrant and raid that occurred on Thursday, December 29 at the Butterball facility in Shannon. The complaint cited North Carolina law allowing animal abuse to be prosecuted as a felony.
“The [North Carolina] anti-cruelty statute provides that if any person shall maliciously kill, or cause or procure to be killed, any animal by intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance, that person shall be guilty of a Class H felony. If any person shall maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill, or cause or procure to be tortured, mutilated, maimed, cruelly beaten, disfigured, poisoned, or killed, any animal, every such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class H felony.”
Photos of Butterball Factory Farm by Mercy for Animals
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