News Index > Oct '06- current > November 2006
New Compassion Over Killing Investigation

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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 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 illegal.

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.

More Information
Compassion Over Killing's videos are available at:


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