Local News

Animal rights group releases 'horrific' video of alleged abuse at NC turkey hatchery

Posted June 4, 2014

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.


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  • Grand Union Jun 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    "“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. We've got to give those animals a decent life and we've got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”

    Temple Grandin

  • Lisa Menendez Jun 5, 2014
    user avatar

    Do people think this is a petting farm? It's a slaughter house... Nothing good is going to happen to these birds..

  • valmantini Jun 5, 2014


  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jun 4, 2014

    I grew up on a farm. We raised chickens, ducks and pigs. We not only treated them all with respect, we showed them affection, right up until it was time to process one of them, and then, we did it as quickly and as painlessly as was possible.
    Lord, I remember staying up nights with chicks wrapped up in bathtowels in a wash pan on the open door of the oven set to VERY VERY low, to keep them warm enough to get them through the night because their mama had died. We could have tossed them, sure - but why? They were living breathing beings, they were our responsibility, and one day - they were going to be our dinner.
    All this makes no sense to me, it's so full of sin because it's cruel and it's wasteful.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jun 4, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Haven't bought a single Butterball product since the last expose', and I'm not going to change that because I believe if they care that little for their stock, then we'd be fools to think they give a darn about us, other than our wallets???

  • Namey Names Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    Man videos like this disturb me. I watched a video not long ago with pigs being abused and it literally made me sick on my stomach. I just don't understand people. Processing animals to eat is something that must be done, however there's no reason to be cruel about it.

  • Greg Boop Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    This is how commercial hatcheries worldwide operate. I don't believe it will ever change.

  • Christopher Rose Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    free range local turkey where you know the local farmer or better yet go hunt your own in the wild. better for the earth, better for them, better for you. Meat is not a main dish to every meal. Meat should be more expensive and we should eat less of it.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jun 4, 2014

    Well what do you expect when NC AG employees announce their inspector visits to ButterBall.


  • Carrboro-resident Jun 4, 2014

    Please don't turn away, that doesn't help the baby turkeys. You can help end this suffering by reducing demand and not eating them. Choose something else at your next meal - there are plenty of plant-based options available that taste just as good.