Local News

Hoke County turkey farm raided after animal cruelty complaints

Posted December 29, 2011

— The Hoke County Sheriff's Office raided a farm Thursday morning that raises turkeys for Butterball after an animal rights group complained about animal cruelty.

Mercy for Animals, which is based in Chicago, claims one of its activists worked for three weeks in the turkey houses and took hidden-camera video inside the farm, at 4213 N. Shannon Road in Shannon, that shows workers throwing, kicking, dragging and beating turkeys, as well as birds suffering from bloody open wounds and infections.

The group sent the undercover videos to Hoke County authorities.

"It was enough to convince us to do an investigation into it, which is what brings us here today," Hoke County sheriff's Capt. John Kivett said.

The farm has two turkey houses, each with about 1,000 birds. A third house is believed to be empty. Hoke County sheriff's investigators say veterinarians have to check every one of the estimated 2,500 turkeys on the farm.

"We do have a court order saying that if the veterinarians (who are) in there believe the birds need to be put down, that is a possibility that that will happen," Kivett said.

Butterball, which is headquartered in Garner, released a statement Thursday, saying the company is working with Hoke County government officials.

"Butterball takes these allegations very seriously and fully supports the efforts being made on the part of officials," according to the statement.

Hoke County turkey farm raided after animal cruelty complaints Turkey farm raided after animal cruelty complaints (warning: graphic video)

"Butterball has a zero-tolerance policy for any mistreatment of our birds or the failure to immediately report mistreatment of our birds by any associates. We are performing extensive internal and third-party audits as part of our own investigation. Employees found in violation of Butterball’s animal welfare policies will be subject to immediate termination."

Authorities arrested one person during Thursday's raid for an outstanding warrant that's unrelated to the animal cruelty complaints, according to the sheriff's office. No other information was available.


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  • msaag2005 Jan 3, 2012

    Its amazing how people can continue to eat dead decaying animal flesh after they know about the abuse, neglect and injustic that took place to get their turky on the table. It time we stop turning a blind eye to suffering. Down with Butterball.

  • driverkid3 Dec 30, 2011

    Never cared too much for turkey, and after seeing that video, I don't think I'll ever be eating it again.

  • gunny462 Dec 30, 2011

    "Kudos to Mercy for Animals. Would that they could inspect every facility that raises animals for food! If you have a strong stomach I recommend you watch a little film titled, "Food, Inc." It's a real eye opener. fayncmike"

    Just pass a turkey leg instead.

  • ncdixie1 Dec 30, 2011

    This is not a processor, someone mentioned processing. This looks like a grow out operation. Where the birds are brought into the houses small and "grown out" to size then shipped for whatever. The whole process by folks not familar is sickening. The animals do kill each other and all kinds of grossness naturally, they do that peckin' fighting thing in the wild too. The houses they are kept in some think are harsh, but they are fed, watered, kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The issue here is the empolyees. Those people I hope will be held accountable. As for the turkey grower, he or she should screen the employees better and train them better. The grower/farmer may or may not have known this was happening. My guess is not because no name has been published yet. The farmer will probally loose his contract and who knows what else. I do think this is a ploy though to bring attention to the Animal Mercy people or whatever their namme is.

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 30, 2011

    @ ghimmy51
    December 30, 2011 8:29 a.m.....I agree, even watching the video, you know the missing eyes, and the other damage they showed in the editied video, were caused by other turkeys not the farmer. The whole video was a set up to gain attention for their cause. What really surprise me is the , judge and shrieff fell for it.

  • emerald7575 Dec 30, 2011

    Really!! you are talking about a Turkey, you have nothing else to do.

  • fayncmike Dec 30, 2011

    Kudos to Mercy for Animals. Would that they could inspect every facility that raises animals for food! If you have a strong stomach I recommend you watch a little film titled, "Food, Inc." It's a real eye opener.

  • girlwonders Dec 30, 2011

    I raise poultry for food and eggs. I often have had to use my feet and a "switch" to seperate turkeys, and chickens who will fight. My animals are free range and commercial grain fed. They have a warm enclosed area that they stay in at night. They still fight and injure each other. They are dumb as rocks. You would just have to raise a few to understand. This abuse isn't acceptable, but it is understandable. And the sick turkeys should have been removed and at the very least quarantined until healthy or put down. I wouldn't eat a fly infested animal, nor one with infection and missing flesh, skin or feathers. That said, birds will pull their feathers out when stressed and they do molt.

  • LocalYokel Dec 30, 2011

    yes, spending an entire life in a overcrowded dark building lined with biological waste is animal cruelty.

    related topics for this article lists "Occupy Chicago". did the occupy movement help bring this corporation to justice?

  • ghimmy51 Dec 30, 2011

    People one of the worst jobs at a turkey farm is going in EVERY morning to remove the dead turkeys. They kill each other. They cannibalize and peck out eyes. There is NO way to stop them. Farmers don't like it but they didn't make turkeys how they are. I'd love to see how those Chicago turkeys who came down here with their space cadet ideas catch and carry turkeys to load a truck and how long it would take them. Oh wait ... they'd adopt them.