Animal Abuse in Turkey Hatchery
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Animal rights group releases 'horrific' video of alleged abuse at NC turkey hatchery

Posted June 4

Image from Mercy for Animals video

 — A California-based animal-rights group released Wednesday what it calls "horrific" video of animal abuse at a Butterball turkey hatchery in Raeford.

Mercy for Animals secretly recorded the nearly 3-minute clip – posted on the website Butterball Abuse (viewer discretion advised) – of baby turkeys, or poults, being mutilated without painkillers, ground up alive in a macerating machine and thrown and dropped by employees.

"This investigation graphically illustrates that a culture of cruelty and abuse continues to run rampant at Butterball facilities," said Nathan Runkle, executive director of the nonprofit, which has exposed similar abuse cases in recent years at other Butterball farms in North Carolina.

In one case from December 2011, five employees were convicted of animal cruelty charges.

Runkle said his group has turned over the video to local law enforcement.

The company said in a statement Wednesday that it has a zero-tolerance policy for animal mistreatment and that an internal investigation with third-party review of the video found workers to be compliant with approved industry practices.

"While experts agree the video does not depict any willful acts of negligence or mistreatment, Butterball does proactively search for continuous improvement opportunities and will provide additional training and education to hatchery associates on animal care and well-being policies to include proper poult handling, transferring methods and management of facility equipment," the statement said.

According to Mercy for Animals, Butterball is responsible for 20 percent of the 252 million turkeys killed each year in the United States. The Raeford hatchery processes more than 300,000 poults per week.