A PETA Undercover Investigation

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

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Update August 19, 2021:

After PETA revealed that workers kicked, stomped on, and beat turkeys with a heavy rod at farms supplying Plainville Farms, Whole Foods has suspended all purchasing from the company and pulled its products from store shelves, calling PETA’s footage “incredibly upsetting and unacceptable.” Urge Whole Foods to stop duping consumers with false “humane meat” claims entirely 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.

Will ‘Humane’ Organizations Stop Giving the Factory Farming Industry Cover?

PETA shared our findings at Plainville Farms with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). These organizations partner with G.A.P., and their representatives sit on its board of directors.

“Turkeys huddle along the walls of the barn and the walls of the chute, seeking protection and comfort in each other. The workers kick and stomp on them, throw birds through the air—sometimes back and forth—by the wing, neck, head, and snood. They tie their snoods together and laugh as the wide-eyed toms are jostled in the packed confines of the chute, struggling to stay upright before eventually stumbling and falling beneath other birds. Workers hit turkeys with an iron bar, stand on their heads, sit on them, press them to the floor, and kneel on their necks. They choke, throttle, wring, and snap their necks. They use their bodies to mimic their own sex acts. And when the birds’ bodies are too broken to move, they are kicked or thrown forward. If they are dead or in death throes, they are tossed aside, either limp or thrashing.”

—PETA’s undercover investigator, describing what he saw at Plainville Farms

To the ASPCA, HSUS, and CIWF:

It’s been more than 10 days since PETA made you aware of this video, depicting just some of the horrific torture of birds described above and documented on multiple farms “certified humane” by G.A.P., which is endorsed and supported by and has the imprimatur of your organizations. Additional video footage has now been released, showing more sadistic torment of turkeys by Plainville Farms workers.

How much more video footage of animal abuse and suffering will it take for your organizations to stop promoting these sham “standards” for factory farms? Your partnership with G.A.P. betrays hundreds of millions of animals every year along with well-meaning consumers who believe that this certification actually means something.

When will you become actual humane organizations and stop giving the factory farming industry cover—ever?


Please, contact these organizations RIGHT NOW and let them know that there’s NOTHING “humane” about their partnership with G.A.P. And if they feed you some line about “working with” the industry, push back: Ask them how what we have described—and it isn’t the first time—is not simply propping up the factory farming industry, because that’s exactly what their partnership is doing.

Kitty Block
President and CEO

[email protected]

Dr. Sara Shields
Behavior and Welfare Specialist
Humane Society International

[email protected]

Matthew Bershadker
President and CEO

[email protected]

Ben Williamson
U.S. Executive Director

[email protected]

Dr. Hillary Dalton
Animal Welfare Specialist

[email protected]

Please also make a phone call today! If you can’t reach a live person, be sure to leave a message.

  • The HSUS can be reached at 1-866-720-2676.
  • The ASPCA can be reached at 1-800-628-0028.
  • CIWF can be reached at 678-902-2493.

Consider these talking points to guide your conversation:

  • There is nothing “humane” about your partnership with Global Animal Partnership.
  • “Working with” these abusers ultimately props up the factory farming industry.
  • How much more video footage of animal abuse and suffering will it take for your organizations to stop promoting these sham “standards” for factory farms?

Then, please let us know their response.


Were You Misled by Plainville Farms’ ‘Humane’ Advertising? Let Us Know

Turkeys Need You to Help Stop This!

Don’t be misled by marketing claims that animals are raised in a “stress-free” environment and transported in “comfort.”

This suffering will not be stopped by the police or any company. Only you can stop it—by not paying for it. Avoid all animal-derived foods, even so-called “humane,” “organic,” and “free-range” meat, eggs, and milk. As long as profit is involved, animal welfare always takes a back seat.

Please send polite comments to:

Anne Malleau
Executive Director
Global Animal Partnership
[email protected]

Urge Whole Foods to Stop Duping Consumers With False “Humane Meat” Claims

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Now that you’ve taken action, watch PETA President Ingrid Newkirk explain why there is no such thing as “humane meat.”

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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