Only days before Thanksgiving, the Humane Society of the United States has released video footage from its recent undercover investigation at Willmar Poultry Company in Minnesota, the nation's largest turkey hatchery, exposing routine neglect and rampant cruelty, including workers mutilating baby turkeys without painkillers and tossing sick, injured and even healthy "surplus" birds alive into grinding machines. Hatching 30 million turkeys each year, Willmar Poultry Company claims to supply 50 percent of the whole turkeys available in U.S. grocery stores.
According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Willmar Poultry Company officials who viewed the investigation video objected to workers overcrowding the production carousel with too many birds but have defended the practices of mutilating animals without painkillers and tossing healthy but unwanted baby birds into grinding machines. A spokesman from Cargill, one of the nation's largest factory farming corporations and one of Willmar Poultry's customers, said his company has reviewed the HSUS investigation and found nothing out of the ordinary.
While this type of total disregard for animal welfare by the industry may shock many consumers, it really is just par for the course. Each year, more than 300 million turkeys endure lives of misery, neglect and extreme suffering. Bred for unnaturally rapid growth, many turkeys suffer from chronic obesity-related health problems, including heart disease and crippling bone deformities. On modern industrial farms, turkeys are crammed by the thousands into giant, windowless sheds. To minimize damage caused by fighting due to such extreme crowding, turkeys often have their beaks, toes and snoods cut off without any painkillers. At the end of their short, miserable lives, turkeys are violently loaded onto transport trucks and shipped to slaughter.
Thankfully, each of us has the power to help end needless cruelty to turkeys and other farmed animals by adopting a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle. But we can each take it one step further by encouraging others to do the same. This Thanksgiving, share MFA's new 30-second Thanksgiving video with your friends and family and let them know that, with an abundance of great tasting vegan Thanksgiving recipes, celebrating a cruelty-free holiday is as easy as vegan pumpkin pie.