Learn more about MFA's most recent undercover investigations below:
Puratone – Manitoba, 2012
MFA's sister organization in Canada completed its first undercover investigation into the Canadian pork
industry, documenting the standard practice of cramming thousands of pregnant pigs into filthy, metal
gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies. The investigation also revealed workers ripping out the
testicles and cutting off the tails of piglets without any painkillers.
The extreme abuse suffered by animals behind the closed doors of Canada's factory farms sparked far-
reaching media coverage and opened the eyes of millions of Canadians to the plights of pigs in their
country. The media frenzy began with an exclusive story on CTV's renowned investigative program W5, followed by additional in-depth coverage in the Toronto Star, on
CTV National, and on CBC National. From there, the shocking investigative video went viral and was seen by millions of people worldwide.
Less than a year after an MFA investigation led to criminal animal cruelty convictions of Butterball
workers, a new investigation at multiple turkey factory farms in North Carolina shows that animal abuse
continues to run rampant at Butterball. Workers were caught on video kicking and throwing turkeys,
violently slamming them into tiny transport crates, and allowing sick or injured birds to slowly suffer and
die without proper veterinary care.
Massive media coverage in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and a television advertising campaign
warning consumers about the ongoing cruelty and violence at Butterball raised awareness among millions
of Americans about the plights of turkeys killed for Thanksgiving dinners.
Hidden-camera video footage secretly recorded by an MFA undercover investigator at a Burger King
cheese supplier has led to the arrest of a manager and two other workers at Bettencourt Dairies, one of the
largest dairies in the country. Workers were caught on video viciously beating and shocking cows, violently
twisting their tails in order to deliberately inflict pain, and dragging a downed cow by her neck using a
chain attached to a tractor.
Following the release of the investigation, Kraft Foods, the largest food company in the United States,
announced a new policy requiring all its dairy suppliers to phase out the cruel practice of tail docking
cattle, among other important animal welfare policies. Unfortunately, while Kraft has taken a step to help
end many of the shocking abuses caught on tape at this dairy factory farm, Burger King—another major
food retailer linked to Bettencourt Dairies—has yet to require its cheese suppliers to make any meaningful
animal welfare improvements.
An undercover MFA investigation provides a shocking look into a Walmart pork
supplier—Christensen Farms—where pregnant pigs and their piglets are forced to
suffer lives of extreme confinement and misery. Thousands of pigs are confined to
filthy, metal gestation crates so small they are unable to even turn around for nearly
their entire lives. Workers slam conscious piglets headfirst into the ground, rip out
their testicles and cut off their tails without painkillers.
Following the investigation, Costco, the third-largest grocery chain in America, and
Kmart, the third-largest discount store in the world, announced they would begin
requiring their pork suppliers to phase out cruel gestation crates. Unfortunately,
Walmart is supporting animal abuse by selling pork from Christensen Farms and
other producers that confine pigs to cages barely larger than their own bodies.
An MFA investigator documented an ongoing pattern of cruelty, egregious
violence, and severe neglect at Ontario Livestock Sales, one of the oldest and
largest livestock auctions in southern California. Law enforcement charged the
owner and seven employees with a total of twenty-one counts of animal cruelty
after an MFA investigator exposed workers throwing, beating, stomping on, and
kicking animals. "Downed" animals—those too sick or injured to walk—were sold,
transported, and left to slowly suffer and die.
Management at this auction facility witnessed downed animals and even
participated in routine violence and cruelty to animals in clear violation of
California law. The city of Ontario’s mayor and a senior councilmember declared the
abuse "shocking" and called for the owner and employees to be prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the law.
Hidden-camera footage obtained by Mercy For Animals led to the arrest of Roberto Celedon for three
felony and 10 misdemeanor criminal charges related to his illegal slaughter operation in Los Angeles
The shocking video evidence shows animals being violently pinned down, having
their throats crudely sawed open, and slowly bleeding to death. This case graphically illustrates the cruel,
inhumane and illegal abuses that farmed animals are all too often subjected to in California and across the
During a raid of the facility, Los Angeles County Animal Control officers seized dozens of sick,
injured and emaciated animals. These animals are now being rehabilitated at The Gentle Barn, a sanctuary
for farmed animals in California.
An MFA investigator documented appalling abuse and neglect at a Butterball facility in Shannon, North Carolina. Butterball workers violently kicked and stomped on birds, dragged them by their wings and necks, slammed them into transport crates and left turkeys to suffer from serious untreated injuries and infections.
MFA reached out to the local District Attorney's office to uphold state anti-cruelty laws and to charge Butterball for its criminal violations. Using evidence from the case, the state issued a search warrant to raid Butterball. For two days authorities documented Butterball's neglect, generating extensive media coverage from CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, and news giants United Press International, The Associated Press, Reuters, and USA Today.
Sparboe Farms – Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado, 2011
Whats really in a McDonald's Egg McMuffin? An MFA undercover investigator exposed appalling cruelty at the fast-food giant's major egg supplier. Hidden-camera footage shot at Sparboe Farms – the fifth-largest egg producer in the country and a significant egg supplier to McDonald's, Target, Sam's Club, Supervalu, and Hy-Vee – revealed hens crammed into filthy battery cages and dead hens left to rot alongside birds still laying eggs for human consumption. The investigator also documented workers burning off the beaks of chicks without painkillers, sadistically and maliciously torturing animals, and throwing live birds into plastic bags and leaving them to suffocate.
The investigation received unparalleled international media attention – airing on ABC's Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and 20/20 – and prompted McDonald's, Target, Sam's Club, and Supervalu to immediately discontinue their relationships with Sparboe Farms. Following the investigation, MFA filed a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Sparboe for making false and misleading public claims regarding animal welfare practices.
Working undercover at Iowa's largest pig factory farm – which confines thousands of mother pigs to barren metal crates barely larger than their own bodies and supplies pork products to major grocery chains, including Kroger, Safeway, HyVee and Costco – MFA's investigator documented management training employees to use dull clippers to cut off the tails of piglets, to castrate them without painkillers and to throw piglets across the room – comparing it to a "roller coaster ride." The investigation also revealed mother pigs – physically taxed from constant birthing – suffering from distended, inflamed, bleeding, and usually fatal uterine prolapses, and sick and injured pigs often left to languish and slowly die without proper veterinary care.
Stirring massive mainstream media attention, the investigation also raised awareness among millions of people about how the majority of pigs are raised and killed for food in the United States.
Undercover footage from this factory farm – which raises over 10,000 calves for use on dairy farms – documented workers bludgeoning calves with pickaxes and hammers, burning out their horns without painkillers, standing on their necks, pulling them by their ears, and leaving them to suffer without veterinary care.
Hidden camera footage secretly shot at a Texas fish slaughter facility revealed shocking cruelty, including workers cutting, slicing, skinning, suffocating and dismembering live and fully conscious catfish – an excruciatingly painful practice harshly condemned by veterinarians. It is now widely accepted that fish feel pain. In fact, fish process pain in much the same way as mammals. In the U.S. each year, approximately 8.4 billion fish are killed for food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 80% of farm-raised fish are catfish, with Texas as a leading producer.
MFA contacted all 181 Texas House and Senate members to address the abuse by introducing new legislation to specifically prohibit "skinning and dismembering of all live, conscious animals" during the 2011 legislative session.
This undercover investigation exposed the inherent cruelty of crated veal production – whereby baby calves are chained by their necks in filthy stalls, where they can't turn around, walk or engage in natural behaviors. The majority of veal sold in the U.S. comes from calves raised in this abusive manner, yet five states and all 27 countries in the European Union have outlawed the practice.
Immediately following the investigative release, Costco Wholesale, the third largest grocery chain in America, adopted a policy against purchasing veal from producers that use the create-and-chain production method, and Bob Barker, Emmy Award-winning host of The Price is Right, urged consumers nationwide to boycott veal and dairy. The exposé prompted Ohio decision-makers to vote in favor of a veal crate phase-out in the state.
Hidden camera video recorded at this Central Ohio dairy farm reveals sadistic and malicious cruelty to cows and newborn calves. The undercover footage exposes animals being beaten in the face with metal pipes, repeatedly stabbed with pitchforks, having their tails broken, and being kicked, thrown, and punched by employees.
As a result of the investigation, a farm worker was arrested and convicted on six counts of cruelty-to-animals, numerous dairy suppliers ended their relationships with the facility, support was generated for a statewide animal protection initiative, and consumers nationwide learned about the dark side of dairy production.
Calves having their tails cut off and horns burned out of their skulls without painkillers, workers hitting, kicking and shocking cows, sick and injured animals left to suffer without proper veterinary care, and cows forced to live in filthy and overcrowded sheds – these were the abuses uncovered during an MFA investigation at Willet Dairy in Locke, New York.
The investigation garnered national media attention and led to a criminal conviction on grounds of cruelty to animals, and the introduction of a bill in New York State to prohibit the cruel and unnecessary tail docking of dairy cattle.
MFA's investigation at Country View Family Farms provided consumers with a jarring glimpse into the nightmarish world of pork production, documenting the standard practice of keeping thousands of pregnant pigs confined in two-feet wide metal stalls called “gestation crates” that are so small that they could only take one step forward or backward and could not turn around or lie down comfortably.
The investigation also uncovered workers tattooing sows by repeatedly driving sharp metal spikes into their flesh, tossing piglets like footballs, and neglecting sows with untreated injuries.
Hatching over 300,000 chicks each day, Hy-Line is the largest hatchery of egg-laying breed chicks in the world. An MFA investigator documented the harsh, industrial nature of today's hatchery environment – where day-old chicks are thrown, mutilated without painkillers, dropped, and neglected to die. This investigation, which sparked international outcry, revealed the standard industry practice of throwing unwanted male chicks into a grinding machine while still alive. These chicks are useless to the industry because they do not produce eggs or grow large or fast enough to be raised for meat.
The largest egg farm in New England, this factory farm confines millions of brown egg-laying hens in tiny battery-cages – so restrictive that the birds can't fully spread their wings or walk freely. MFA's hidden camera footage exposed birds trapped in the wire of their cages and workers throwing live birds into trash bins and breaking their necks.
The investigation prompted the Maine Department of Agriculture and state police to raid the farm on grounds of cruelty. Grocery chains nationwide dropped the farm as an egg supplier, following MFA's exposé.
As part of a landmark civil settlement, the mega-farm pleaded guilty to 10 counts of cruelty to animals, agreed to pay over $130,000 in fines and restitution, and handed over authority to the state of Maine to conduct unannounced inspections of the facility for the following five years.
Just four weeks before California voters went to the polls to cast their ballots on Proposition 2 – a modest initiative requiring that egg-laying hens in the state be given enough room to walk, stand and stretch their limbs – MFA released startling footage from inside Norco Ranch, the state's largest egg producer. The video showed birds packed in cages so tightly that they could hardly move, live birds neglected on dead piles, and hens injured and trapped by cage wire.
Prop 2 passed with overwhelming support - making California the first state in the nation to ban battery-cages.
An egg supplier to major grocery chains across the western United States, Gemperle Enterprises is one of the nation's largest egg producers. Covert footage recorded at the facility by an MFA investigator uncovered hens left to suffer from untreated injuries and infections and workers roughly cramming birds into cages, tearing birds out of cages by their fragile wings, kicking, stomping and throwing them, and hurling them into "kill carts."
Working in the "live-hang" area of this massive turkey slaughterhouse (where live birds are snapped into shackles on the slaughter line), MFA's investigator secretly filmed workers throwing, punching, kicking and ripping the heads off of live birds.
The investigation also revealed conscious and thrashing turkeys having their throats slit - spotlighting the disturbing reality that birds are exempt from the federal Humane Slaughter Act.
As Ohio's largest egg factory farm, Ohio Fresh Eggs confines millions of hens in restrictive battery cages, where the birds live each day confined so tightly that they are unable to walk, spread their wings, or engage in other simple, natural behaviors. Undercover video from this facility reveals birds suffering from open wounds and infections, dead birds rotting in cages with hens still producing eggs for human consumption, live hens in trash bins, and other deplorable abuses that are commonplace in factory egg production.
A major egg producer in Ohio, Weaver Brothers Egg Farm subjects millions of hens to a life of deprivation, confinement, and neglect. Video footage recorded at this United Egg Producers' "Animal Care Certified" facility reveals hens coated in feces and packed in tiny cages, birds suffering untreated infections, corpses left to rot on cage floors, birds trapped in cage wire, and a live hen left to die in a trash bin.
Mercy For Animals has achieved major, measurable successes through our investigations. Following our first two egg farm exposés, Giant Eagle grocers pledged to boycott eggs from producers who "force molt" their hens – the practice of shocking hens into a laying cycle by depriving them of light and food. In response to the House of Raeford investigation, numerous employees were fired and Denny's restaurant chain ended its supplier relationship with the slaughterhouse.
Similarly, grocery giant Trader Joe's terminated its business relationship with California egg producer, Gemperle Enterprises, after MFA exposed the egg farm's merciless practices. After the Buckeye Veal Farm exposé, Costco Wholesale committed to ending the sale of veal from producers who use a crate-and-chain production method. This policy will spare months-old calves from being chained by their necks inside individual two-feet-wide crates so small that the calves are unable to turn around, walk, lie down comfortably or clean themselves.
Recently, MFA investigations have helped pass landmark legislation; prompted one of the country's largest egg producers to move away from battery cages; led law enforcement to raid an investigated facility, resulting in a landmark civil settlement; raised international awareness of the egg industry's disturbing practice of killing unwanted male chicks by throwing them into grinding machines; and enlightened countless consumers through thousands of television, newspaper and radio stories.
Get Active: How You Can Help
Donate Make a tax-deductible contribution to support Mercy For Animals' life-saving work on behalf of the most abused and neglected creatures on earth: farmed animals. Click here for information on joining MFA's monthly giving club, and click here for information on joining The Hope Society.
Become an Undercover Investigator – If rolling up your sleeves, wiring up with a hidden camera, and doing the stomach-turning work of an investigator sparks your interest, MFA wants to work with you. Contact Matt at MattR@MercyForAnimals.org.