12 Times MFA's Undercover Investigations Changed the World for Animals

Each time Mercy For Animals sends someone undercover into a factory farm, slaughterhouse, or hatchery, the investigator uncovers horrific animal cruelty.

These investigations have garnered widespread media attention, resulted in corporate reform and criminal prosecution of animal abusers, and propelled legislative initiatives to protect farmed animals.

1. Hy-Line Hatchery (2009)


What We Found: Hatching more than 300,000 chicks each day, Hy-Line is the largest hatchery of egg-laying breed chicks in the world. Day-old chicks are thrown, mutilated without painkillers, dropped, and dumped into a giant macerator to be ground up alive.

The Result: This investigation sparked international outrage and awareness of the common egg industry practice of grinding up male chicks because they do not lay eggs or grow fast enough for meat production. The hidden-camera video became one of the most viral videos on the internet and has been viewed nearly 5 million times.

Watch the investigation here.

2. Conklin Dairy Farms (2010)


What We Found: The undercover footage exposes some of the most sickening animal abuse we've ever seen. Cows and newborn calves are beaten in the face with metal pipes, repeatedly stabbed with pitchforks, kicked, thrown, and punched by a worker who seems to enjoy torturing animals. Their tails are even broken.

The Result: The factory farm worker was arrested and convicted on six counts of animal cruelty. This investigation is also credited with pushing the Ohio Farm Bureau to implement the most comprehensive set of animal welfare reforms ever enacted by a single state at one time, including a ban on veal crates and gestation crates and a moratorium on new battery cage egg facilities.

Watch the investigation here.

3. Sparboe Farms (2011)


What We Found: A hidden camera captured hens crammed into filthy battery cages and dead hens left to rot alongside birds still laying eggs for human consumption. The investigator also documented workers burning off the beaks of chicks without painkillers, sadistically and maliciously torturing animals, and throwing live birds into plastic bags and leaving them to suffocate.

The Result: In response to the undercover footage, McDonald's, Target, Walmart, and other huge retailers dropped Sparboe from their supply chains, resulting in what may be the largest financial fallout for a factory farm following an undercover investigation.

After years of continued campaigning by MFA, McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart announced cage-free egg policies.

Watch the investigation here.

4. E6 Cattle Co. (2011)


What We Found: The investigation uncovered workers bludgeoning calves with pickaxes and hammers, burning out their horns without painkillers, standing on their necks, pulling them by their ears, and leaving them to suffer without proper veterinary care. 

The Result: The investigation sparked national outrage, caused the live-cattle stock price to drop, and prompted countless consumers to consider for the first time the plight of calves born into the dairy industry. The investigation also led to criminal charges against the owner, his foreman, and several employees for animal abuse. The conviction of E6's owner, deep in the heart of Texas "cattle country," was unprecedented.

Watch the investigation here

5. Butterball (2011)


What We Found: Covert cameras revealed Butterball workers maliciously kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, violently slamming them into transport crates, and leaving turkeys to suffer from serious untreated injuries and infections without proper veterinary care.

The Result: The investigation led to the arrest and conviction of several workers, including the first-ever felony conviction in U.S. history for cruelty related to birds used for food production. Additionally, the investigation uncovered government corruption. Dr. Sarah Jean Mason at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture was arrested and found guilty of obstruction of justice after admitting to warning Butterball about a raid by law enforcement.

Watch the investigation here.

6. Bettencourt Dairies (2012)


What We Found: Workers were caught on video viciously beating and shocking cows, violently twisting their tails in order to deliberately inflict pain, and dragging a downed cow by her neck using a chain attached to a tractor.

The Result: Kraft Foods, the largest food company in the U.S., announced a new policy requiring all of its dairy suppliers to phase out the cruel practice of tail docking cattle among other important animal welfare policies.

Watch the investigation here.

7. Tyson Pork Group (2013)


What We Found: The investigator documented pregnant pigs locked in filthy gestation crates, unable to turn around or lie down comfortably for nearly their entire lives, and sadistic animal abuse, including workers throwing a bowling ball at a pig's head, and kicking, throwing, hitting, body slamming, and otherwise torturing pigs at this Walmart pork supplier.

The Result: Tyson Foods, the second-largest pork producer in the country, dropped this facility as a supplier and announced a set of new animal welfare guidelines for all of its pork suppliers, including recommendations to phase out inherently cruel gestation crates, end the practice of slamming piglets headfirst onto the ground to kill them, provide pain management during tail docking and castration, and install video monitoring systems to prevent abuse.

This case, along with several other investigations at Walmart pork suppliers, also led Walmart to adopt a comprehensive animal welfare policy.

Watch the investigation here.

8. Wiese Brothers Farms (2013)


What We Found: Hidden cameras captured workers viciously kicking, beating, and stabbing cows; dragging "downed" cows by their fragile legs and necks using chains attached to tractors; and sick or injured cows suffering from open wounds, infections, and injuries left to suffer without proper veterinary care.

The Result: Four workers were charged and convicted of animal cruelty, and Nestlé, the world's largest food company, announced its commitment to improving farmed animal welfare across its entire global supply chain. Covering more than 90 countries, the company’s new policy may be the most comprehensive and far-reaching animal welfare policy of its kind.


9. Winchester Dairy (2014)


What We Found: The investigator exposed cows being violently whipped in their faces and bodies with chains and metal wires, and sick or injured cows suffering from open wounds, infections, and injuries left to suffer without proper veterinary care.

The Result: Three workers were convicted of animal cruelty, and Leprino Foods, the world’s largest mozzarella cheese maker and a supplier to Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s restaurants, announced one of the most comprehensive animal welfare policies ever adopted by a major U.S. dairy company.


10. Délimax Veal (2014)


What We Found: Covert cameras revealed calves living on feces-covered floors in wooden crates barely larger than their own bodies, often chained by the neck, unable to even turn around or lie down comfortably for their entire lives.

The Result: The investigation garnered international media attention, one worker was convicted of animal cruelty, and the Ontario and Quebec Veal associations, as well as major retailers Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro, agreed to ban veal crates. This means that 97 percent of the veal produced in Canada will be crate-free by 2018.


11. Hybrid Turkeys (2014)


What We Found: The shocking video reveals workers kicking and throwing turkeys, crushing their spines with bolt cutters, and viciously beating them with shovels and metal rods. The video also exposes turkeys with pus-filled gaping wounds and rotting eyes who were left to suffer and slowly die.

The Result: Hybrid Turkeys, the world’s largest primary turkey breeder, was convicted of animal cruelty. This conviction marked the first time a Canadian factory farm had been found guilty of animal cruelty as a result of hidden-camera footage obtained by an animal protection organization.

In addition, Maple Leaf Foods, the largest meat company in Canada, adopted a sweeping animal welfare policy.


12. Tyson Foods (2015)


What We Found: The investigator documented owners of a Tyson contract farm engaging in gruesome animal abuse, including beating and stabbing chickens to death using a spiked club, standing on the birds’ heads and pulling their wings or bodies to break their necks, and throwing live birds into buckets to suffer and slowly die.

The Result: This former McDonald’s chicken supplier lost its longtime contract with Tyson Foods, pled guilty to criminal animal cruelty, and quit the chicken factory farming business for good.


--
MFA has achieved landmark changes to end abuse of animals by the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Stand with us as we continue to fight for the well-being of millions of animals, our health, and the planet.

Become an Investigator Ally by joining our monthly giving club today.

*Updated on May 10th, 2016*