Animal rights activists are urging people to consider the reality behind the turkey industry this Christmas, and have shared footage of workers sexually abusing animals at a major farm.
An investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) uncovered abuse at Butterball slaughterhouse, which the group says slaghters 50,000 animals a day.
Eyewitnesses documented abuse between April and July 2006, including ‘a worker shoving his finger into a turkey’s cloaca (vagina) for “fun” during a break when the slaughter line was stopped’.
“Another employee grabbed a bird by her legs and jerked her back and forth at a coworker to tease him,” PETA explained in a statement.
“The coworker punched her to push her back. A third employee slammed a bird’s head and legs into the slaughter line shackles and rubbed his body against her, pretending to rape her while she was immobilized. The workers laughed during each instance.”
WARNING: The below video features graphic imagery which viewers may find distressing
More details of the eyewitness account included:
- May 2: “One frustrated worker kicked a bird in the head and another broke a bird’s neck so that her head was touching her back. He laughed about this. Another worker was slamming birds into the shackles.”
- May 3: “One worker swung a turkey like a baseball bat into the metal bar of the trailer. He did this again later, slamming a bird into a handrail. I could see the bird’s spine and there was a lot of blood. He laughed about this.”
- May 8: “One worker took a live bird and stomped on her head, crushing her skull until her head exploded. He then laughed and wiped the blood from his leg. He also threw birds against the concrete and punched others.”
- June 5: “There was a live bird with only one leg and a bloody body in a shackle. A worker looked at her and started laughing—he had ripped her leg from her body when she became stuck between two coops.”
Butterball has been repeatedly accused of animal abuse, and was again in the spotlight in 2011 when Mercy for Animals revealed an undercover investigation.
Activists said the footage depicted “an ongoing pattern of cruelty to the turkeys” and employees intentionally committing “acts of violence and severe neglect”.
Butterball replied to accusations by arguing it has “zero tolerance policy for any mistreatment of our birds”.
“At Butterball, LLC, our number one priority is to provide for the health and well being of our birds in order to produce safe and nutritious product for consumers,” the statement says. “Butterball takes these allegations very seriously and fully supports the efforts being made on the part of officials… Employees found in violation of Butterball’s animal welfare policies will be subject to immediate termination,” a spokesperson said.
Mercy for Animals published another investigation into Butterball last year.
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