Local News

More turkey abuse alleged at Butterball farms

Posted November 14, 2012

— An animal-rights group whose undercover investigation a year ago led to criminal charges against workers at a Hoke County turkey farm is making new allegations of turkey abuse at other North Carolina farms tied to Garner-based Butterball LLC.

Mercy for Animals said Wednesday that one of its members was hired as a worker on a crew that visited different farms each evening to round up turkeys. The member used a hidden camera to shoot footage last month of turkeys being kicked, stomped on, dragged by their wings or necks and thrown into crates on top of other birds.

Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy for Animals, said the turkeys had broken bones that went untreated and had open sores from neglect.

"Butterball claims to have a zero-tolerance policy for animal abuse," Runkle said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Butterball allows a culture of cruelty, neglect and violence to fester at its factory farms."

Butterball is conducting an internal investigation and has suspended the workers shown in the video, spokeswoman Rachael Jarnagin said.

"Animal care and well-being is central to the operations of our company, and we remain committed to the ethical and responsible care of our turkey flocks," Jarnagin said in a statement.

The video has been turned over to authorities in Sampson, Duplin, Lenoir and Onslow counties, where the footage was shot, to determine if criminal charges are warranted. Some video also was shot at a Cumberland County farm, but Runkle said there was less evidence of animal abuse there.

Turkey abuse video Butterball investigating alleged turkey abuse on NC farms

"This is not a matter of one rogue employee. This is a matter of Butterball failing to address abuse once again – failing to have policies, oversight (or) training," Runkle said. "Butterball should be held criminally accountable for the abuse."

Ernie Lee, the district attorney for Sampson, Duplin and Onslow counties, said he is reviewing the video, which he received two weeks ago, and is checking state and federal animal care regulations.

Last December, Hoke County authorities raided a turkey farm near Shannon after Mercy for Animals shot video of abuse there. Five workers were arrested, and at least one pleaded guilty in the case.

Also, the top poultry veterinarian at the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services pleaded guilty to tipping off the farm to the raid.

109 Comments

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  • Rebelyell55 Nov 15, 5:44 p.m.

    It looks like some won't even be eating Turkey Franks no more. What ashame.

  • nclgw Nov 15, 5:00 p.m.

    Disgusting....simply disgusting. I'll never buy any Butterball product again. Perhaps if enough other people did the same, they would get the message

  • piene2 Nov 15, 4:25 p.m.

    "That's awesome wayneboyd....like working in a factory is an excuse for animal abuse.....
    rwine51"

    Those who abuse animals are just as likely to abuse other people including children.

  • Skywatch_NC Nov 15, 2:54 p.m.

    No one ever said that working in a meat processing plant was easy ...but that's no excuse to take an abusive route.

  • gnewsome1 Nov 15, 2:32 p.m.

    Hire the turkey lovers and let them work in a turkey plant to see how they would like it, turkeys taking care of turkeys.

  • rwine51 Nov 15, 2:31 p.m.

    That's awesome wayneboyd....like working in a factory is an excuse for animal abuse.....

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 15, 1:44 p.m.

    Rockets in Gaza, murder in Syria, gangs in Chicago and now Turkeys in North Carolina.

    That's the spirit ...go make light of other situations, too.

    Skywatch_NC
    November 15, 2012 1:06 p.m.
    .......Are you serious? Comparing those issue to Turkeys?

  • Thought Criminal WS Nov 15, 1:10 p.m.

    This will have NO impact on my plans to buy, cook, and eat a Turkey on T-day.

    PETA can go eat some tofu.

  • Skywatch_NC Nov 15, 1:07 p.m.

    There's nothing like hands on experience ...and abuse ...to help one appreciate the fellow on the other side of the wall.

  • Skywatch_NC Nov 15, 1:06 p.m.

    Rockets in Gaza, murder in Syria, gangs in Chicago and now Turkeys in North Carolina.

    That's the spirit ...go make light of other situations, too.

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