Hybrid Turkeys faces 11 animal cruelty charges

An Ontario turkey farm is facing numerous animal cruelty charges after a CBC Marketplace investigation revealed disturbing hidden camera footage recorded at the facility.

Ontario SPCA lays charges after CBC Marketplace report reveals alleged abuse

Hidden camera footage from an Ontario turkey breeding barn appears to show birds with large open wounds, an employee instructing a worker to kick birds to check for leg injuries and failed euthanizations. (CBC)

An Ontario turkey farm is facing numerous animal cruelty charges after a CBC Marketplace investigation revealed disturbing hidden camera footage recorded at the facility.

The province’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals has laid a total of 11 charges against Hybrid Turkeys and five of the Kitchener company’s employees.

In March, Marketplace broadcast exclusive hidden camera footage that was captured at the farm. A member of the animal rights group Mercy for Animals Canada made the recordings over a two-month period while working undercover at Hybrid Turkeys.

The videos show failed euthanizations, birds living with open wounds and an employee allegedly advising the undercover activist to kick the animals.

During one of the euthanizations that were caught on video, an employee appears to strike a turkey with a series of objects, including a shovel.

In a Thursday statement, Hybrid Turkeys said it is reviewing the charges, which have been laid under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act against the company and individuals responsible.

The specific charges Hybrid Turkeys is facing are:

  • One count of failure to provide care necessary for animals' general welfare.
  • One count of failure to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention.
  • Three counts of permitting distress.
  • Two counts of failure to kill an animal by a method that is humane and minimizes pain and distress.
  • Four counts of causing distress (by killing an animal in a manner that caused suffering).

Some of the charges carry potential fines of up to $60,000 and jail sentences of up to two years.

Hybrid Turkeys representative Helen Wojcinski says the company is taking steps to improve its animal welfare practices. (CBC)

Helen Wojcinski, the company's manager for science and sustainability, said a third-party investigator has completed a probe of Hybrid Turkeys' animal welfare practices and that a pilot project to install surveillance cameras to monitor the killing of turkeys is "moving forward."

"We continue to explore and implement new steps to improve the welfare of animals in our care," she said. 

The CBC investigation prompted Maple Leaf Foods to launch its own investigation into the practices of its suppliers.

The Canadian meat and poultry giant said it does not own any commercial turkey farms, but added its suppliers receive eggs from Hybrid to grow their own stock. 

The defendants are scheduled to appear in a Woodstock, Ont., provincial court on Aug. 13.