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Independent, nationally and world-renowned academic and professional experts in bird welfare and veterinary medicine reviewed the video footage from MFA's latest undercover investigation at multiple Butterball turkey facilities. Below are some of their statements:
Greg Burkett, DVM
Dr. Burkett is a Board Certified Avian Veterinarian in North Carolina who serves as an Adjunct Professor of Avian Medicine and Surgery at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Chair of the AAV Avian Welfare Committee. Dr. Burkett was the veterinarian who accompanied the Hoke County Sheriff’s Department during the December 2011 raid of the Hoke County Butterball facility in order to examine the turkeys. Dr. Burkett writes:
The abuses shown in this video are identical to the abuses documented in last year’s Butterball investigation which led to criminal cruelty to animals charges and convictions. These behaviors are cruel, inhumane, and injurious to the birds. I am appalled at the disrespect these workers have toward the lives of other living creatures. … It is obvious that these acts are unnecessary, but more importantly, they are acts of cruelty and blatant disregard for the welfare of these birds."
Sara Shields, PhD
Sara Shields holds a doctorate in animal behavior from the University of California, Davis, and has extensive experience as a research scientist, teacher, and consultant in animal welfare, with an emphasis on the well-being of poultry. Dr. Shields also accompanied the Hoke County Sheriff’s Department during the December 2011 raid of the Hoke County Butterball facility in order to examine the turkeys. Dr. Shields states:
Especially concerning was the handling of turkeys who were obviously suffering from leg disorders, problems that are common in birds bred to gain weight quickly. Rapid growth and heavy body weight can leave turkeys susceptible to bone, joint, and leg problems… Some of the birds pictured in the video were crippled to the point that it was difficult or impossible for them to walk, yet workers attempted to force them move anyway. This kind of treatment is highly likely to exacerbate painful conditions further, and can lead to immense suffering. … Under no circumstances is it acceptable to use violent force to move animals.
Temple Grandin, PhD, PAS
Dr. Grandin is considered the world's leading expert on farmed-animal welfare. She is an associate professor of livestock behavior at Colorado State University and an animal welfare advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the meat industry. Dr. Grandin states:
The employees were handling the birds roughly and I would classify the animal handling as rough and not acceptable.
Lester Castro Friedlander, BA, DVM
Dr. Friedlander is a former Chief Inspector for the United States Department of Agriculture and has been recognized in the Who's Who in Veterinary Science and Medicine, and for his work on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Federal Veterinarians in Washington, D.C. Dr. Friedlaner states:
After reviewing this undercover video several times I find it to be very disturbing. The constant kicking and throwing of these turkeys is inexcusable. The turkeys in this video exhibit pain and suffering from the adverse actions taken by the company employees. They have no respect for those sentient beings.
Lee Schrader, DVM
Dr. Schrader is a practicing veterinarian, who obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Schrader has over 35 years of experience working with animals, particularly animals with serious, difficult-to-diagnose disorders. She performs post-mortem examinations on animal victims of abuse and neglect and provides expert testimony in such cases. Dr. Schrader states:
The workers in this facility repeatedly and brutally kick, throw, and drag the birds by their legs, necks and wings. They slam the birds into cages and drop them from several feet in the air. The distress of the birds is obvious in their vocalizing and wing flapping. Due to the weight and size of these birds, they should never be lifted by their legs or wings, as this can cause severe injury. … In summary, the inhumane treatment of the birds and the filthy surroundings are inexcusable.
Lorelei Wakefield, VMD
Dr. Wakefield holds a Veterinary Medical Doctorate and uses her background to assist Humane Law Enforcement officers in New York City with animal cruelty investigations and to treat the victims. Her expertise, which includes the care of farmed animals, has been widely featured on the Animal Precinct television series. Dr. Wakefield states:
In a lazy way of moving the turkeys along, a worker repeatedly kicks various turkeys, rather than using his hands or a soft object to move them. … Turkeys are highly intelligent birds that require safe and gentle treatment. To throw a turkey several feet through the air is equivalent to throwing a 20-30 pound small dog, an obviously cruel action. Birds feel pain in largely the same way a dog does and thus this conduct is terribly brutal. To kick and throw animals of any species is inherently wrong. This farm should be shut down immediately until proper conditions and educated handling are available.
Debra Teachout, DVM, MVSc
Dr. Teachout is a practicing veterinarian, who graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She also holds an advanced degree in veterinary clinical pathology from Western College of Veterinary Medicine and has completed additional coursework in farmed-animal welfare. Dr. Teachout states:
These video recorded incidents (throwing, kicking, dragging, dumping) should never occur in proper handling of live turkeys. Turkeys are large, heavy birds; and as such they should never be picked up by their wings. … They should not be thrown from place to place. … No animal should ever be dragged along the ground while it is conscious. No animal should ever be kicked and even kicked repeatedly as this is just flagrantly painful and inhumane. … In general the handling practices in this facility are clearly inhumane, callous, and they cause significant distress, pain, injuries and suffering in the turkeys.
Armaiti May, DVM, CVA
Dr. May, a practicing veterinarian with experience treating farmed animals, received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. She has experience treating livestock, and is an expert at recognizing the signs of pain and distress in farmed animals. Dr. May states:
Many of the turkeys are so lame that they are unable to walk, prompting workers to use forceful, violent methods to get the birds to move. Workers are repeatedly seen kicking turkeys, grabbing them forcefully by their wings, and throwing them violently over other turkeys. Such rough handling is not a standard industry practice and demonstrates a cruel lack of regard for the welfare of these turkeys. It must not be tolerated.