Another animal activist undercover video surfaced on Wednesday, taken at a Hawkeye Sow Centers (HSC) swine breeding facility near Leland, Iowa. The animal rights group, Compassion Over Killing (COK) released the video, which was shot in December 2011. A COK investigator worked at the facility during that time and wore a hidden camera while inside the production unit.
COK Executive Director Erica Meier, presented the video at a press conference in Des Moines. She reported that the COK investigator worked on the farm for three weeks.
The video concentrated on castrating piglets without anesthesia; the housing protocols associated with gestation-sow stalls as well as farrowing crates; procedures to address herniated intestines occasionally associated with castration; and a feedback procedure that she described as “gruel.” Feedback is a procedure that can involve processing afterbirth and intestines from piglets that have died. It works as an inoculation process to build a sow’s immunity for certain health challenges.
“I don’t see any evidence of willful abuse of the animals in the video,” says Harry Snelson, DVM, communication director for the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. “The concern of our members, as always, is the treatment of the animals under our care. Contrary to the assertions of the (video) narrator, it was evident that the farm employee had been trained, recognized the injuries and attempted to treat those injuries. There is nothing on the video to support the assertion that the animals are denied veterinary care.”
The National Pork Board also responded, saying “America’s pork producers take seriously our ethical responsibility for the proper care of pigs. Upon the initial viewing of the video released today, it appears that the practices shown in the video are not abusive, but could be taken out of context by those not familiar with livestock production.”
“Producers work closely with their herd veterinarians to ensure proper animal care and health and are dedicated to seeking new and better ways to care for their animals,” says Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications for NPB. “Pork producers welcome the opportunity to discuss their animal-care practices, but abhor those who look for isolated incidents in an attempt to undermine the work of caring livestock farmers.”
But Meier argues that "animal cruelty is standard practice," in pork production. She adds COK’s vegetarian creed, “The most effective way consumers can stand up for animals and help stop the cruelty is to simply leave pigs, and all animals, off our plates.”