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Butterball turkey plant raided on animal cruelty concerns [Updated]

December 29, 2011 |  9:50 am

Turkey
North Carolina officials raided a Butterball turkey facility Thursday looking for signs of animal cruelty, according to an animal advocacy group that had sent undercover footage of the site to authorities.

The Hoke County Sheriff’s Department obtained a warrant to search Butterball’s turkey semen collection factory in Shannon, N.C., according to Mercy for Animals.

The activist group had collected hidden-camera footage of the location in November and December, which it then forwarded to law enforcement along with a legal complaint against Garner, N.C.-based Butterball. The video is available here.

Mercy for Animals said it found the birds being kicked, stomped on, dragged and beaten at the facility. Some were suffering from bloody open wounds and infections as well as severe feather loss and broken bones, the group claimed.

The company claims to be the largest turkey producer in the country, distributing 20% of products based on the fowl. Butterball could not be reached for comment.

[Updated 12:53 p.m.: Butterball said in a statement Thursday that it is working with county officials about Mercy For Animals’ allegations.

“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,” the statement said. “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.”]

Last month, Mercy For Animals went after McDonald's egg producer Sparboe with undercover video of poor chicken treatment, causing the fast-food giant to dump the supplier.

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— Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Larry Beckner / Great Falls Tribune / AP Photo

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