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A PETA Undercover Investigation

Turkeys Stomped on, Punched, and Left to Die at 'Humane' Farms Supplying Top Grocers

Update (August 9, 2023): Victory! Multiple defendants have pleaded guilty to cruelty-to-animals charges that law-enforcement authorities filed for the abuse that PETA’s investigator witnessed while working for Plainville Farms.

With a total of 141 charges—including six felonies—against 12 men in six counties, this case against former Plainville Farms workers involves the most charges and defendants in any case of cruelty to factory-farmed animals in U.S. history.

See the full investigation below:

If you’ve ever shopped at Whole Foods, you may have seen signs posted in the meat department that say things like “enriched environment” and “treated humanely.” But what a PETA investigator documented at a series of Pennsylvania turkey factory farms tied to a Whole Foods supplier reveals that these signs are probably worth less than the recycled paper they’re printed on.

In 2021, a PETA investigator worked for Plainville Farms, a New Oxford, Pennsylvania-based company that claims to produce “humane” turkey in a “stress-free environment.”

PETA’s investigator saw workers attack birds to instill fear, to vent their frustration, or to relieve their boredom. Workers kicked and stomped on the turkeys as hard as they could. They threw birds through the air by the wing, neck, head, and snood. They threw them back and forth just for fun. They tied their snoods together and laughed as the terrified birds were jostled around in the packed confines of the chute. They hit them with an iron bar and stood on their heads. They choked and throttled them, and they wrung and broke their necks. They used the turkeys’ bodies to mimic sex acts. See for yourself, then take action below.

‘Humane’? ‘Stress-free’? You be the judge.

The individual farms that supply Plainville Farms are certified as both “base” and “Step 2” operations, according to the 5-StepTM standards of Global Animal Partnership (G.A.P.). As a result, Plainville is expected to meet higher welfare standards than most other factory farms.

Kicked, Thrown Around, and Bludgeoned at ‘Happy Meat’ Supplier

PETA’s investigator observed crews of turkey catchers, who spend all night catching thousands of turkeys in dusty, crowded sheds and slamming them into metal coops on trucks that haul them to slaughter.

Every night, at every farm the crews worked at, PETA’s investigator saw catchers repeatedly and viciously kick and stomp on dozens of turkeys, many of them sick, injured, weak, or just too lame to stand up.

One crew position is even called “kick”—where the worker is expected to kick turkeys who pass by that point!

Workers grab turkeys—who each weigh more than 40 pounds—by the neck or by a single, fragile wing, pick them up, and throw them around. They hurl the birds at each other and at other turkeys as if it’s a game. One held a garbage bag open like a basketball hoop to toss a bird into.

The men punch and slap the turkeys. One man hit them with a heavy metal rod.

Mimicking Masturbation With an Injured Hen

Workers try to break the birds’ necks by picking them up by the head and repeatedly shaking them up and down, before finally tossing them aside. The turkeys convulse and are left to die in agony. Workers do this even to turkeys who don’t appear ill or injured—apparently just to amuse themselves.

A worker picked up one of these birds and put her between his legs. Holding her by her injured neck, he mimicked masturbation then dropped her on the floor, kicked her, and left her to die. There she lay in agony, next to another hen tossed aside like garbage.

A few nights later, the same worker put another hen between his legs and thrust his pelvis back and forth.

“Kill It!”

Turkeys who survive all the abuse are forced onto a conveyor belt and slammed into severely crowded metal coops on open-sided trucks.

If the turkeys struggle, workers smash them against the coops and yell, “Mátalo!” (“Kill it!” in Spanish).

Get a New Job if You Don’t Want to Kick Turkeys

Crew leaders do nothing to stop the violent abuse. One of them—who kicked turkeys himself—repeatedly encouraged workers to kick and throw the birds.

He and other workers berated PETA’s investigator for not kicking birds and instead picking them up and calmly herding them, even saying that he should get a new job, since he wouldn’t do things the “right” way by abusing the animals.

Dead and Dying Turkeys Everywhere—After a Lifetime of Suffering

Dead and dying turkeys can be seen every night on every farm. They receive no treatment for illness or injury but instead are left to die slowly and in pain.

These animals are already crowded, stressed, frightened, and weak from carrying around excess weight as a result of being selectively bred to gain weight rapidly. No matter how they are loaded for slaughter—where handling is surely equally horrific—they suffer simply by virtue of being bred for their flesh.

You Can Help Stop This!

Don’t be misled by marketing claims that animals are raised in a “stress-free” environment and transported in “comfort.” Avoid all animal-derived foods, even supposed humane,” “organic,” and “free-range” meat, eggs, and milk. As long as profit is involved, animal welfare always takes a back seat.

Urge Whole Foods to stop duping consumers with false “humane meat” claims by emailing Bart Beilman below:

Bart Beilman
Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Retail Operations
Whole Foods
[email protected]

If you think you have what it takes to carry out undercover investigations like this one, we want to hear from you. Click here to share your gratitude with the investigator who exposed this cruelty.

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