Expose Reveals Cruelty at Pig Breeding Farm

by 5m Editor
16 February 2012, at 8:02am

IOWA, US - Undercover video footage exposing animal abuse and suffering inside Hawkeye Sow Centers (HSC), a pig breeding farm in Leland, Iowa, was released yesterday by animal protection organization, Compassion Over Killing (COK).

The video was filmed by a COK investigator who worked at the facility in December 2011 and wore a hidden camera to document the day-to-day miseries forced upon thousands of female pigs and their piglets.

Iowa is the largest pork-producing state in the US, and COF says that agribusiness interests are currently trying to pass an "ag-gag" law (HR-589/SF-431) in the state to effectively make whistleblowing exposes on factory farms, like this investigation, illegal. COK says that its video exposes standard industry practices that the industry is trying to hide, including, it claims:

  • Pregnant and nursing pigs nearly immobilised in tiny crates, unable to even turn around
  • Piglets screaming while workers slice off their tails and cut out the males' genitals without any pain relief
  • Poorly performed castrations that resulted in herniated intestines
  • Workers pushing the herniated intestines back inside the piglets, then wrapping the area with tape
  • Countless sick or injured piglets left to suffer without veterinary care, many of whom later died
  • Forced cannibalism: intestines from dead piglets are turned into "gruel" to feed back to pigs
  • Layers of feces caked on the floor of crates and filthy, fly-infested conditions

As the investigator was told, many of the piglets born at this facility will end up on store shelves under the brand name, Hormel. While Hormel recently issued a statement that its company-owned facilities will be phasing out gestation crates, COK sais that it did not commit to extending this welfare policy to the hundreds of independently-run facilities that ultimately supply Hormel, like HSC, which comprise the majority of Hormel's pork.

With the news this week that McDonald's - one of the biggest buyers of pork in the US - is moving to end gestation crate confinement of pigs in its US supply chain, the writing for this inhumane practice is on the wall, says COK. It has now called on Hormel to end the use of cruel gestation crates in its entire supply chain.

COK has also expressed concern about the castration of piglets without anaethesia and the group said that welfare concerns have prompted Switzerland and Norway to ban the practice, and many other countries have implemented alternatives—alternatives which are also available in the US and which COK says should be immediately implemented by the pork industry.

"When it comes to the meat industry, animal cruelty is standard practice," said COK's executive director Erica Meier. "And rather than try to prevent the worst abuses, Big Agribusiness is trying to prevent Americans from finding out about them with ag-gag bills designed to ban these exposes.

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