For more information about the investigation, visit
Tue, Nov. 21, 2006
Hatchery routine criticized
Owner of breeding farm says methods are within state, federal guidelines
A Washington-based animal-rights group plans a national news release today
challenging the practices of a leading N.C. turkey hatchery as inhumane.
Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit animal-protection group, has posted videos
on its Web site www.cok.net shot by an
investigator who worked at a hatchery owned by Goldsboro Milling Co. The videos
involve turkeys being hatched for this week's holiday. Since October, the
company has been a corporate affiliate of Butterball LLC, and its turkeys are
sold under the Butterball name.
The employee, who worked at the hatchery for three weeks in June and July,
documented newly hatched turkeys suffocating in plastic bags, being mangled by
machinery and being dumped into the same disposal system used for their
discarded eggshells, said the group's executive director, Erica Meier. "From the
very first day of their lives, these chicks endured unimaginably abusive
treatment," she said.
Nick Weaver, general manager of Sleepy Creek Farms, which oversees the
hatcheries of Goldsboro Milling, said the number of baby turkeys -- called
poults -- who die by the methods the group documented is minimal.
"I like to get every single poult that's viable out of these hatcheries and to a
farm," he said. "Everything they're claiming injures my bottom line."
Each poult is worth roughly $1.10, Weaver said. He estimated that of the roughly
75,000 poults processed each day at the company's hatcheries, about 20
accidentally die or are destroyed because they are not viable.
Occasionally, some poults are destroyed because they are considered surplus, and
suffocation is one method accepted under industry guidelines, he said.
Another industry-accepted killing method is to send them through the same
pneumatic tubes used to dispose of their eggshells, where they are
instantaneously killed by a high-speed impact, he said. The guidelines were
developed in compliance with both state and federal regulations, he added.
"To portray it as this horrible, sinister ... situation is just not fair, just
not accurate," Weaver said.
Meier said the videos show that the numbers of destroyed poults are at least in
the dozens each day.
The group's news release does not allege that any of the hatchery's practices is
They are instead urging that consumers halt the practices by not eating turkey
on Thursday. "Each one of us can give turkeys something to be thankful for this
holiday season by simply leaving them off our plates," Meier said.
Compassion Over Killing's videos are available at: