Animal Advocacy Group Finds Abuses At Butterball Turkey Facility

An animal advocacy group, Mercy For Animals (MFA), found abuses of turkeys at a Butterball turkey facility in North Carolina. An MFA investigator conducted an undercover investigation in October 2012, and captured abuses on hidden footage. Last year, MFA investigators found abuses at another North Carolina turkey facility which led to an investigation by local law enforcement. Five workers were charged with animal abuse. The MFA alleges that the abuses caught on video last month are “virtually identical to the acts of extreme cruelty and violence documented by MFA at a Butterball turkey factory farm in 2011.”

The MFA investigator found the following:

  • 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
  • Workers grabbing birds by their wings or necks and violently slamming them into tiny transport crates with no regard for their welfare

A poultry welfare scientist and adjunct professor of avian medicine and surgery at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Greg Burkett, who also accompanied law enforcement last year during a raid of a Butterball turkey farm, said about the video:

“The abuses shown in this video are 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.”

According to the MFA website,, the organization alerted law enforcement officials and they are “investigating.” Butterball is the world’s largest producer of turkey meat, responsible for 20 percent of the 252 turkeys raised and consumed in the U.S. every year. The company is also responsible for 30 percent of the 46 million turkeys killed for Thanksgiving.

Butterball is “aware of the video released today by Mercy for Animals,” the company said in a statement. “We take any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously.”

In the statement, Butterball claims that it has a “zero tolerance policy for animal abuse,” and any employee who is caught violating the company’s animal care and well-being guidelines is “terminated.” The company “immediately initiated an internal investigation and suspended the associates in question” after learning of the allegations.

After the abuse allegations last year, Butterball said in a statement that the company has a “zero tolerance policy for any mistreatment of our birds or the failure to immediately report mistreatment of our birds by any associates.”

Image credit: Wikipedia user, Yathin sk

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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