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Minnesota Turkey Producer Accused of Animal Cruelty

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PHOTO: A western Minnesota turkey farm is facing allegations of animal cruelty, after the release of an undercover video filmed at the operation by an animal rights group. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing.
PHOTO: A western Minnesota turkey farm is facing allegations of animal cruelty, after the release of an undercover video filmed at the operation by an animal rights group. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing.
 By John MichaelsonContact
November 27, 2013

WILLMAR, Minn. - As families across the state prepare to sit down for that big Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, an animal rights group is claiming inhumane and cruel treatment of turkeys at a farm in western Minnesota.

The group Compassion Over Killing has released an undercover video that executive director Erica Meier said shows filthy conditions and hens being artificially inseminated, "which can be frightening and violent, and these hens will endure artificial insemination over and over again.

"In addition to that, this video is showing hens getting entangled in the mechanical nesting boxes," she said, "and many endure severe injury while they're trying to free themselves."

Meier said the video was filmed inside Hargin Inc. in rural Starbuck, and some of the facility's eggs go to Willmar Poultry, the nation's largest turkey hatchery. Officials with both operations say they adhere to National Turkey Federation guidelines on animal care and well-being.

Some of what is shown on the video is standard industry practice, but Meier said that needs to be changed and is one reason more people are turning away from turkey.

"As consumers are increasingly discovering this sad reality, a growing number of people are choosing to leave animals off their plates," she said. "Certainly, this Thanksgiving, we are seeing a growing number of Americans choosing to celebrate with a vegetarian meal."

Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in the nation.

The video is available online at cok.net/inv/hargin/.

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