BUSINESS
07/03/2014 03:58 EDT | Updated 09/03/2014 05:59 EDT

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.

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.

According to provincial law, a conviction under the act can lead to fines of up to $60,000 and jail sentences of up to 30 days.

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 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. 

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