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Undercover video of Butterball hatchery released Tuesday

June 3, Mercy For Animals, a non-profit animal rights organization, released undercover footage taken at a Butterball hatchery in North Carolina.

Baby turkeys like this one are alleged to be mistreated by Butterball.
Garrett and Kitty Wilkin

The video shows the insensitive, factory-like way newly hatched turkeys are treated inside the plant. The baby birds are transported through the facility on conveyor belts, some getting caught and injured in the machinery. Workers grab and toss the tiny turkeys as though they are inanimate objects being processed. The birds have their toes and beaks cut or burned off without the use of anesthetic. Injured birds are thrown into a macerator to be ground up alive, while the healthy birds are packed up and trucked off to facilities where a short and painful life awaits them.

Butterball Councilmember Dr. Joy Mench, Professor of Animal Science at University of California – Davis responded to the video saying “The undercover hatchery video I reviewed did not depict any animal mistreatment. As with any operational process, there is always room for learning and improvement, which is why our council encourages Butterball to continue its ongoing associate training programs to ensure top-notch turkey care.”

Butterball also asserted in their response to the video ”Animal care and well-being is central to the operations of Butterball. We are committed to the ethical and responsible care of our turkey poults and have a zero-tolerance policy for any animal mistreatment. That is why Butterball has worked diligently to make significant improvements to its entire animal care and well-being program, inclusive of hatchery operations”.

Mercy For Animals has performed several undercover investigations at various Butterball facilities in the last 5 years. A 2011 investigation revealed workers abusing the adult turkeys, the investigation resulted in a raid by state law enforcement and eventual animal cruelty convictions.

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