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Animal Rights Group Alleges Cruelty At Minn. Turkey Farm

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Before you place a turkey at your table, one animal rights group wants you to know how some turkeys are allegedly being treated at a Minnesota farm.

The video released by Compassion Over Killing (COK) features a hidden camera investigation at a farm they claim is Hargin Inc. in Starbuck, Minn.

"This is where about 25,000 female turkeys are locked these large massive, cruel and filthy sheds," Erica Meier, executive director of COK, said.

Alleged Animal Cruelty At MN Turkey Farm

The video shows how the birds are artificially inseminated with a plastic tube on a weekly basis. It also shows the hens getting entangled in mechanical nesting boxes used to collect eggs, often times resulting in severe injuries to the bird's wings and heads.

Minnesota is the number one turkey producing and processing state in the nation. There are 250 family farms raising approximately 47 million turkeys annually.

The company Hargin Inc. sells eggs to Wilmar-Poultry Company (WPC), the nation's largest turkey hatchery. In 2010, The Humane Society of the United States documented multiple abuses by the producer including grinding animals alive and mutilation without pain.

After WPC saw the video a company spokesperson issued this statement:

"Willmar Poultry Company adheres to the National Turkey Federation guidelines on animal care and wellbeing, and we expect all of our suppliers to do the same. We will be following up with all of our suppliers and farm partners to ensure complete compliance with appropriate animal care guidelines."

Meier with COK says NTF guidelines do not mean companies are treating the turkeys humanely.

"There voluntary guidelines that the industry sets for others to voluntarily follow," said Meier. "And just because these guidelines exists doesn't mean their humane. It just means the industry has deemed them okay for others to follow."

Hargin Inc.'s Randy Hagen responded to the accusations Wednesday, releasing this statement:

"Hargin Inc. strives to comply with all aspects of the National Turkey Federation's Animal Care Guidelines, including guidelines for humanely euthanizing turkeys that are injured or sick. Where that has not happened, we will thoroughly retrain employees to ensure the guidelines are followed in the future. If we discover willful violations of the guidelines, we will take appropriate action."

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