Breaking Investigation Reveals Holiday Horrors for Turkeys

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Status: Current
Originally Posted: 20 November 2008

Breaking Investigation Reveals Holiday Horrors for Turkeys

From People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Take Action Here to Save Turkeys

More than 72 million of the nearly 270 million turkeys killed for food every year in the U.S. are slaughtered for holiday meals. This year, 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 and experts' statements, 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.

PETA's investigator also saw disgusting, cramped conditions. The rotting remains of about 70 hens were left amid live birds—who had to climb over the dead—for more than a day. A supervisor urinated in turkey pens, and workers spat tobacco in the pens as well. 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.

Those who eat turkeys are supporting this cruelty. Please help us put an end to this suffering by leaving turkeys off your plate and by supporting PETA's work in behalf of animals.

Please also write to the National Turkey Federation and urge it to recommend that all turkey breeders implement PETA's seven-point animal welfare plan.


Visit All-Creatures.org's Animal Exploitation Photo Gallery for images of brutality towards turkeys raised to be human food. And visit Stop Holiday Killing Campaign.

What else to serve at Thanksgiving? Visit our Recipes section.

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