Feds Find Turkeys Dead of Hypothermia; PETA Calls For Cameras at Cargill Operations

For Immediate Release:
April 19, 2023

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Dayton, Va.

A just-released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report reveals that 24 turkeys died on a single trailer during transport to the Cargill Meat Solutions slaughterhouse in Dayton—the latest in a string of horrors connected to the operation. In response, PETA fired off a letter today to Cargill President and CEO Brian Sikes calling on him to livestream video footage publicly from the Dayton slaughterhouse and all of the company’s contracted haulers and factory farms to help prevent additional egregious suffering.

On December 22, a winter storm brought freezing rain and temperatures of 33 degrees to the Dayton area. Despite this, the turkeys were transported in a Circle S Ranch trailer with no protection from the elements. At the slaughterhouse, a USDA inspector found that 24 turkeys who had died were “diffusely soaked wet and cold to the touch,” “consistent with death due to hypothermia,” and two more were near death.

“Turkeys are sensitive, gentle beings, not commodities, and they should never be subjected to excruciating pain, terror, and death, as they have been at the hands of Cargill and its supplier over the years,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on Sikes to livestream his Dayton operation publicly and reminds everyone that the only humane meal is a vegan one.”

The deaths of these turkeys are the latest in a slew of incidents documented by inspectors at the Dayton slaughterhouse, including those in which turkeys suffocated after being shackled upside down by their legs for up to 90 minutes; a turkey was trapped and fatally injured under a Circle S trailer’s tire; a turkey was plunged into scalding water while conscious; and turkeys nearly drowned but for the last-minute intervention of an inspector at least two times recently. Additionally, Circle S trucks that were carrying turkeys to the Dayton slaughterhouse crashed on four occasions between 2012 and 2019 in Henry County alone.

PETA’s letter to Sikes follows.

April 19, 2023

Brian Sikes

President and CEO

Cargill Inc.

Dear Mr. Sikes:

In light of U.S. Department of Agriculture records that detail how at least 24 turkeys died while being transported through freezing rain on December 22, 2022, to your Dayton, Virginia, slaughterhouse, we ask that you immediately implement changes in the hope of reducing the suffering of birds in your suppliers’ sheds, during transport, and at the Dayton facility.

According to the records, an inspector found 24 dead turkeys—who were “soaked wet and cold to the touch”—and two dying birds on a Circle S trailer that had hauled the animals “during a winter storm event that included low temperatures and freezing rain,” without any protection against the elements. Trucks carrying live turkeys for Circle S Ranch to your Dayton slaughterhouse crashed four times in Henry County, Virginia, between 2012 and 2019. Witnesses reported that turkeys with broken bones and “atrocious” injuries had been tossed against coops, causing their heads and wings to strike the metal frames. PETA discovered that the driver responsible for one crash had been convicted of driving while impaired, driving while his license was revoked, and speeding.

Further underscoring the need for change is the fact that last December, a conscious turkey was plunged into scalding-hot water at the Dayton slaughterhouse, where she drowned—and an inspector had to intervene to prevent two more birds from enduring the same fate in the following weeks. Last September, up to 40 male turkeys were left hanging for up to 90 minutes with their legs clamped in the shackles typically used to convey birds through the slaughter line. Up to 10 of the birds had suffocated to death, and the survivors were gasping for air and flapping their wings so frantically that their bones had broken.

Will you please publicly livestream video from all areas of your Dayton operations where live turkeys are handled? Your contract factory farmers, haulers, and slaughterhouse workers would take more seriously their duty to handle and transport animals lawfully if they knew caring people were watching. At the very least, will you report the driver responsible for these latest cruel deaths to law enforcement for investigation for possible violations of Virginia’s cruelty-to–animals law? Thanks for your consideration.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

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