A new undercover video of horrific animal abuse at five Butterball turkey plants in North Carolina revives longstanding concerns about animal cruelty at America’s largest Thanksgiving turkey producer. The video, shot by the animal advocacy group Mercy for Animals, depicts Butterball employees kicking the turkeys around, breaking their bones and leaving them to suffer, and casually chatting about the spread of terrible illness among their flock (warning for graphic content):
A similar investigation into a North Carolina Butterball plant last year revealed near-identical abuses, despite Butterball’s claims that it has a “zero-tolerance” policy for animal cruelty. The 2011 incident resulted in five individuals being charged with animal cruelty by NC authorities. The local police are currently in the process of investigating the most recent allegations of animal abuse.
Even absent the extraordinary levels of cruelty on display in the video, Butterball turkeys live terrible lives. As Mercy for Animals reports, “Butterball’s turkeys have been selectively bred to grow so large, so quickly, that many of them suffer from painful bone defects, hip joint lesions, crippling foot and leg deformities, and fatal heart attacks.” Contrary to popular belief, turkeys are both highly social and relatively intelligent animals.