Amidst happier news of turkey pardoning and turkey rescue comes a sad story from the Humane Society of the United States. A new investigation has revealed examples of routine animal abuse at Willmar Poultry Company in Minnesota, the largest turkey hatchery in the U.S. The company produces 600,000 baby turkeys, or poults, each week, totaling 30 million birds annually.
For 11 days in October, an HSUS investigator documented regular cruelty and abuse, including throwing sick or deformed birds into the grinder while they were still alive; removing parts of the turkeys' beaks, toes, and snoods without any painkillers; abandoning sick or injured birds on the floor to suffer before being thrown into the grinder; and crates filled with baby turkeys stacked high, with some crates crashing to the floor and crushing the poults.
“Our latest investigation exposes a callous disregard for animal welfare in the turkey industry, including practices such as grinding alive sick, injured, and even healthy but unwanted turkeys,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “It’s unacceptable for workers to leave injured and non-ambulatory animals to suffer on the floor for hours on end, only to then send them to their deaths in a grinder.”
The HSUS is urging the turkey industry to adopt more humane practices that will eliminate the suffering associated with handling and shackling, and ensure that the birds will not be conscious when put into the grinder. But in reality, the only way to truly reduce suffering for these poor turkeys is to boycott factory farm birds or to choose meat-free options for the holidays.
The report can be found on the Humane Society's website and you can find plenty of cruelty free holiday options through TDIV's No Meat Zone!
Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary