Undercover video footage released by Mercy for Animals (MFA) last week has once again exposed heartbreaking cruelty on five Butterball turkey farms in North Carolina… just in time for Thanksgiving.
Last December, MFA released a disturbing video of turkeys being abused at a Butterball factory farm in Shannon, N.C., that led to a raid and the first felony convictions for cruelty to birds used in agriculture. One worker received 30 days in jail and was fined $550.
This time around, undercover footage taken this fall shows workers kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their wings and necks, slamming them into transport cages and leaving others to suffer illnesses, injuries and infections untreated.
“These behaviors are cruel, inhumane, and injurious to the birds,” said Dr. Greg Burkett, poultry welfare scientist and adjunct professor of avian medicine and surgery at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine. “I am appalled at the disrespect these workers have toward the lives of other living creatures.”
Butterball, the largest turkey producer in the U.S., is conducting an internal investigation and released a statement claiming it has a zero tolerance policy on animal cruelty.
Butterball is aware of the video released today by Mercy for Animals, and we take any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously. As has been our long-standing policy, we have a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse. 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.
Even without suffering from blatant cruelty, factory farmed turkeys still suffer from the effects of our “progress” in industrialized farming. MFA explains that “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.”
“Consumers have a right to know how turkeys are treated at Butterball, before they end up as their Thanksgiving dinner,” Matt Rice, director of the investigation for MFA, said in a statement. “And I think that most people care about animals, even animals that are raised and killed for food.”
MFA is encouraging people to enjoy a cruelty-free Thanksgiving. Here are some animal-friendly recipes for the holiday season.
Trigger warning: the video below contains violence towards animals.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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