A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation has revealed a pattern of shocking abuse and neglect at Butterball, the largest producer of turkey products in the United States.
Hidden-camera footage taken at Butterball reveals workers violently kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously beating them with metal bars. Video shows turkeys covered in flies, living in their own waste, and suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, rotting eyes, and broken bones, without any veterinary care.
Unfortunately, the lives of turkeys in Butterball's factory farms are short, brutal and filled with fear, violence and prolonged 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.
This genetic manipulation creates birds that are so large they cannot even reproduce naturally, meaning that artificial semen collection and insemination have become the sole means of turkey reproduction at Butterball facilities.
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 now agree that turkeys are sensitive and intelligent animals with their own unique personalities, much like the dogs and cats we all know and love.
While MFA works to expose and end animal abuse at Butterball and other giants of the meat, dairy and egg industries, you can help by contacting Butterball. Please use the form below to send a polite email to Butterball urging the company to implement meaningful animal welfare policies, including regular veterinary care for sick and injured birds, less cruel killing procedures for sick or injured animals performed by qualified veterinarians, and an end to the genetic manipulation of turkeys to promote unnatural weight gain.
After sending a polite email asking Butterball to make these important changes, consider making a few changes of your own. Every time we sit down to eat, we can choose compassion over cruelty. Adopting a diet free of meat, dairy and eggs is perhaps the single most important and powerful action you can take to prevent needless cruelty to animals. And what better time than the New Year to make a compassionate vegetarian resolution?
Click here to take MFA’s 2012 Vegetarian Pledge and start receiving helpful tips, delicious recipes and friendly encouragement.
- Barry Gum
- Kerry Doughty
- VP Food Safety, Government Regulations, and Public Affairs, Butterball
Joe Nalley (VP Food Safety, Government Regulations, and Public Affairs, Butterball)
I was shocked and horrified by the animal abuse recently documented on hidden camera by Mercy For Animals at one of your facilities in North Carolina. I am disgusted to see workers kicking, stomping and beating turkeys with metal bars. Many of the poor birds in the video were clearly suffering from untreated illnesses and injuries with no veterinary care.
While wild turkeys are majestic birds, known for their grace, speed and wit, Butterball 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.
It is time for Butterball to end these egregious abuses and unnecessary suffering of turkeys by enacting meaningful animal welfare policies, including regular veterinary care for sick and injured birds, less cruel killing procedures for sick or injured animals performed by qualified veterinarians, and an end to the genetic manipulation of turkeys to promote unnatural weight gain.
Clearly, Butterball can do better. I urge you to begin to alleviate the needless cruelty and suffering documented during the Mercy For Animals investigation by implementing these crucial animal welfare policies.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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