Islamic Sufism Spirituality

The Dark Side of the Turkey Industry

Posted on: October 29, 2009


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Update: Following our investigation inside Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., 19 indictments for cruelty to animals were filed against former employees. Now, for the first time in U.S. history, two ex-employees have been convicted of abusing factory-farmed turkeys, and one has been jailed. Learn more on our blog.

More than 72 million of the nearly 270 million turkeys killed for food every year in the U.S. are slaughtered for holiday meals. In 2008, just prior to the flesh-focused Thanksgiving holiday, PETA conducted an undercover investigation lasting more than two months at the factory farms of Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., the self-proclaimed “world’s leading poultry breeding company.”

While working at a series of Aviagen factory farms in West Virginia, PETA’s investigator documented that workers tortured, mutilated, and maliciously killed turkeys. The following are just a few of the documented offenses:

  • Employees stomped on turkeys’ heads, punched turkeys, hit them on the head with a can of spray paint and pliers, and struck turkeys’ heads against metal scaffolding.
  • Men shoved feces and feed into turkeys’ mouths and held turkeys’ heads under water. Another bragged about jamming a broom stick 2 feet down a turkey’s throat.
  • A supervisor said he saw workers kill 450 turkeys with 2-by-4s.
  • One man said he saw a coworker fatally inject turkey semen and sulfuric acid into turkeys’ heads.

To learn more, please read the investigator’s log notes, view our photo gallery, and visit our blog.

PETA’s investigator repeatedly brought abuses to a supervisor’s attention. The supervisor responded, “Every once in a while, everybody gets agitated and has to kill a bird.” PETA also brought the abuse to the attention of Aviagen, and although the company made assurances and instituted some new rules, the cruelty did not stop.

The suffering typically found on factory farms was also routine in Aviagen’s sheds: Hens’ beaks were cut with pliers, massive birds collapsed and died of exhaustion or heart attacks, and turkeys were thrown into transport cages.

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