Officials Raid Butterball Turkey Facility To Investigate Claims Of Animal Cruelty

A North Carolina Butterball facility was raided recently by officials, who were investigating claims by an animal advocacy group that the company has been abusing fowl on the premises. Mercy for Animals sent law enforcement video they’d collected from hidden cameras at the plant.

In the film shot at Butterball’s semen collection factory in Shannon, N.C., the activists claim birds were kicked, stomped on, dragged and beaten. It’s said to show turkeys suffering from “bloody open wounds and infections as well as severe feather loss and broken bones,” reports the L.A. Times.

It’s bad enough they have to live at a semen collection factory, but to be treated cruelly while providing food for human consumption? That’s just nasty.

Mercy For Animals has been in the headlines lately, as they previously employed a successfully campaign against one of McDonald’s egg suppliers, Sparboe, that they said were treating chickens poorly. Celebrities got involved and sent off an angry letter to McDonald’s urging them to implement broad changes in their chicken-culling ways.

Butterball turkey plant raided on animal cruelty [L.A. Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. smo0 says:

    :( Turkisses.

  2. BrightShopperGettingBrighter says:

    Wow. I have more respect for the crazy prices at Whole Foods with every story like this.

  3. Cat says:

    I make my own butterball semen at…

    Oh, hell. I don’t even believe I went there.

  4. Azagthoth says:

    Huh… so how does that evidence hold up in court?

    We were justified in raiding the place because we had this illegally obtained footage of the plant, Your Honor.

    Not an apologist for the plant, just curious if that type of footage could even be used against the plant.

    • NightSteel says:

      Whether or not the footage was illegally obtained is debatable. Presumably, the person taking the video got themselves hired on, so they were legally authorized to be there. Filming probably wasn’t authorized, but that’s a civil matter, not a criminal one. I see no reason why the footage would be inadmissible.

      • 2 Replies says:

        Regardless of how a person was hired, and regardless of any results from any civil suit…
        It entirely depends on jurisdiction, but usually the case is that video taken within the private premises (which includes a place of business) must have had the permission of the owner/resident beforehand, in order to not be admissible.

        • taaurrus says:

          Permission or a warrant to place a video camera, whose contents will be used as evidence, is only needed if the video camera is placed by police or other law enforcement. If the video camera is placed by a private civilian and then given to law enforcement then NO permission is needed to place the camera and no warrant is needed and the video CAN be placed into evidence.

          • Azagthoth says:

            So what if that camera is placed in a bathroom or bedroom? Where is the line drawn? If I find a camera planted in my house by an individual do I have legal recourse? What if I find it in my business?

        • msbask says:

          But doesn’t that suggest that if I come to your house and videotape you beating your wife, then I can’t give the tape to the police unless you give me permission?

    • taaurrus says:

      It is only illegal if the video cameras were placed by police or other law enforcement agency. THEY would need a warrant. If a civilian placed them – totally LEGAL. Also, it is only AUDIO recordings that need consent – not video.

    • Conformist138 says:

      If the person taking the video got hired at the company, taking video to the police would be protected as whistleblowing. Just because a company is private doesn’t mean they actually can do anything/everything they want and prevent people from telling on them.

  5. Cat says:

    I thought my job sucked. How does one put “turkey semen extractor” on a resume?

    I DO know a few hookers that make a pretty good living at it.

  6. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    I honestly just can’t get past the statement “semen collection factory”. Especially in combination with “the company has been abusing fowl”. Strange pictures go through your head, I tell ya.

  7. RayanneGraff says:

    I will never understand how people can treat animals like that. I yelled at my dog for peeing on my carpet once & felt terrible about it for days.

    • Tiercelet says:

      Um, if you have guilt issues about disciplining a domestic animal, that’s your own problem (& by no means equivalent to what happens to factory-farmed animals, or as they say in the biz, “product.”)

      Your dog is not a person. It will get over being yelled at. Discipline is good for it, lest it come to the conclusion that it is in charge and can discipline you.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        What is a “person” anyway? A human? My dog has her own personality along with obvious emotions, and she’s as much of a person to me as any human. She knows I’m the alpha but I still don’t like seeing the look in her eyes or the way she hangs her head when I have to discipline her. Sorry I’m not enough of a sociopath to feel no guilt about making another creature feel bad.

  8. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    If something people have been posting on Facebook lately is true, the whistleblowers in this case are terrorists in the eyes of the FBI.

    Maybe the FBI will look the other way to keep the semen out of their eyes.

  9. Bagumpity says:

    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly…

  10. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Not only that but I’ve rumors from a guy who knows a guy that they also murder turkeys there until they are dead.

  11. neilb says:

    Another horrible aspect of these superbirds: They physically CANNOT mate anymore. The breasts have been bred to be too large for the plumbing to fit together.

    Oh, the lengths we go to when we want to spend $8 on a huge amount of food instead of $20! I am glad we have groups looking out for this.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      We have groups actively trying to increase food prices 250%? Sucks for the poor people.

      • consumeristjohnny says:

        Well there is plenty of food that is available that is CHEAP and provide protein. Tofu would be one. I guess prices could be lower if we just throw away all regulations and oversight of the industry. Dont worry about the ecoli or salmonella. It is a great weight loss device.

      • Wolfbird says:

        Sucks even more for the turkeys, apparently. Bean and rice, yo. Or get a better job might be an option.

        Yeah, I like birds more than I like people.

      • Conformist138 says:

        No… we have people actively trying to prevent the artificial decrease of food prices though the systemic abuse of animals.

        The 250% increase is what the price should be for a normal bird- the decrease comes from the above mentioned traits we’ve specifically bred for that cost the animal a lot in terms of health and quality of life.

        I eat meat, I know these birds will eventually be butchered, but that doesn’t mean I’m cool with animals being forced to needlessly suffer during their lives.

        If meat prices went back to normal with normal, healthy animals then the answer would just be to eat less meat. As it is, western countries (particularly the US) eat far more meat than we really should. It’s not good for our health and the high demand and cheap prices leads to situations like this.

        • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

          There are exceptions meaning some people have medical conditions that limit their food choices. There are few things I can have and meat-based protein is one of them. That and simple carbs. Before this showed up, I could eat anything. I also cannot have soy. I love animals and never envision people treating them so cruelly so I hope that this brings about change. Like the ‘humane’ eggs sold at the grocery store, there is a way if we want to find it.

  12. CrankyOwl says:

    Sooo…the animal activists called fowl on the goings-on at the turkey factory?

  13. brinks says:

    Mercy for Animals is the sane person’s PETA. They get their mission accomplished but with less theatrics.

    Even if they ultimately wind up being (humanely) killed, animals feel pain and fear and deserve to live in reasonable, safe conditions. I’m glad this was brought to the public’s attention.

  14. BennieHannah says:

    The final push for me to make our kitchen meat free was reading the thriller “Still Life With Crows.” The descriptions of the turkey slaughterhouse and the serial killings created a lurid, viscous, smelly mental abattoir that could never be washed clean. And, really, I’ve never met a vegetarian who misses turkey anyway. I miss premium beef steaks cooked perfectly — but most of it is not cooked perfectly and thus disappointing — and bacon, which I’ve found reasonable substitutes for. All in all, it hasn’t been that difficult to give up.

    • Tiercelet says:

      I was turned off bacon permanently when I had some “smoke flavor” almonds and realized that they tasted exactly like bacon — and that the taste I associated with bacon was actually just some liquid artificial-smoke flavoring chemicals drizzled over the pork bellies like car wash soap at the bacon factory.

      I had some bacon out of the States once that didn’t have this chemical flavoring — it’s phenomenally bland, definitely not the addictive substance of Internet memes.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        Try some farmer’s market bacon. It is superior to anything you’ll find in a supermarket, and hardly flavorless.

  15. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Does cruelty occur or not at halal factories? Or is it cruelty followed by a humane death?

    • fadetoblack says:

      I don’t consider cutting the throat of an animal and letting it hang from its feet until it bleeds to death especially humane. Even these halal instructions show that the animal is conscious for up to one minute while it bleeds out.

      But at least they wait before continuing processing the meat; in high-production factory meat plants, animals are regularly skinned and deboned while alive and sometimes conscious.

      There are humane slaughter methods, but they are of course too slow to be used in industrial production.

  16. maruadventurer says:

    “sent off an angry letter to McDonald’s urging them to implement broad changes in their chicken-culling ways. ” — from the post.

    Guess what happens when chickens are culled? They become fryers that end up on your dinner table. Yep they are dispatched. Can’t get much crueler than that.

    Several other observations. Most operators of chicken houses look for chickens with the the aforementioned afflictions. They have to in order to maintain the health of the flock. Should disease enter the house it runs rampant and the farmer is wiped out for the season.

    The real disaster is the broad breasted butterball. They can’t breed, hence the semen collection. Worse yet the entire gnome of that bird species is controlled by only two companies on the planet. That is a high risk situation as far as food production goes.

    • RickN says:

      >>Worse yet the entire gnome of that bird species is controlled by only two companies

      Butterball and Travelocity?

  17. SporadicBlah says:

    Its FOOD. Not your grandma! Being eaten seems way crueler than having your semen collected on a daily basis. Whats next? Humane collection processes for vegetables?

    • mehitabel says:

      How dense do you have to be to equate animals with vegetables?

      Watch the video. They suffer.

    • Hoss says:

      Get help soon

    • Conformist138 says:

      Does the vegetable have a nervous system that allows it to feel pain?

      Anything that can feel pain and be reasonably expected to experience fear should be treated with care. We can still kill and eat them, but we don’t get extra flavoring from kicking them while they’re alive.

      • SporadicBlah says:

        There has been studies done that show that plants do react to being hurt. They produce not only chemical reactions but also SOUND on very small levels. The sound is believed to trigger the same chemical defense mechanisms in the surrounding plants as well. Kind of like an alarm system. Plants can secrete chemical defenses when attacked by insects.

    • Conformist138 says:

      And, go watch the video. I made it a whopping 15 seconds before I had to turn it off. That is beyond sick. Those birds are so sick and injured they cant even walk, and a person is hitting them with a stick for seemingly NO reason. The poor creatures want to get away, but can only lay on the ground flapping their half-feathered wings.

      That is… I can tell you what, I can’t imagine I will be buying anything with turkey in it for a very, very long time. Add in the pigs from those cages that force them to stand still forever and I’m halfway to being a vegetarian until I can afford meat from smaller farms instead of these factory operations.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      I know right? How dare anyone suggest humane living conditions for animals who feel pain & fear? They’re just FOOD!


  18. HogwartsProfessor says:

    :'( That’s two hurty animal stories today. Imma cry.

    I had a pet turkey once. I used to pet his little head. It makes me sick to think about them being tortured like this.

  19. Snip says:

    Well, shit. :-( Guess I’m gonna have to start springing for heritage turkeys.

  20. planet417 says:

    You can’t judge the company by the actions of a few sick individuals. I don’t think it is Butterball company policy to allow employees to abuse it’s product.

    • fadetoblack says:

      The article and cruelty case allege that these conditions were fully known to management. Of course, at the corporate level they will spin this so the local team takes the blame, but it’s not news to anyone in the industry what the conditions in factory meat processing facilities are actually like.

      “Hidden-camera footage taken at Butterball reveals:

      Workers violently kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or into transport trucks in full view of company management;
      Employees bashing in the heads of live birds with metal bars, leaving many to slowly suffer and die from their injuries;
      Turkeys covered in flies, living in their own waste, with some unable to access food or water and suffering from severe feather loss
      Birds suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, rotting eyes, and broken bones; and
      Severely injured turkeys, unable to stand up or walk, left to die without any veterinary care, because treating sick or injured birds was too costly and time consuming, as the farm manager explained to MFA’s investigator.”

  21. mrbofus says:

    And…? The facility was raided, but nothing is mentioned as to whether or not the MFA videos were corroborated or not. Was the facility shut down?