Exploited Turkey Plant Workers Required to Kill 51 Birds a Minute

A recent Slate article reports that the days leading up to Thanksgiving are a nightmare for turkey factory farm workers.

It’s easy to put the blame on these people for animal suffering, but the truth is that the majority of them suffer as well. Most workers are immigrants who find themselves working in dangerous situations.

But Thanksgiving time is worse than the rest of the year. As we approach the holiday, Butterball, America’s largest turkey producer, cranks out 45,000 turkeys a day. Its plant near Huntsville, Arkansas, is surrounded by barbed wire and sits back on a quiet road. It employs more than 650 people. The company requires plant employees to work approximately 50 days straight to meet the Thanksgiving rush.

Workers call this period “fresh because birds are sold fresh, not frozen. Butterball requires the line speed to increase to 51 birds a minute. A debone worker can slice up more than half a million turkeys without a single day off.

In 2013, Butterball announced that its employees had worked 8 million hours without a single lost-time injury. Although the poultry industry claims to be leading the charge on workers’ protection, the truth is that low injury rates may simply mean companies have found new ways to discourage workers from seeking needed medical treatment or taking time off.

While the poor treatment of farm workers is well-documented, workers aren’t the only ones treated unfairly. Subjected to extreme confinement and painful mutilations, it’s the animals who pay the ultimate price with a lifetime of suffering.


Remember, this is about supply and demand: If you want turkeys to stop being abused and ruthlessly slaughtered, and workers to stop being exploited, stop buying turkey.

This Thanksgiving, give factory farm workers and turkeys something to be thankful for by ditching the industry that places them behind profit.

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