Christensen Farms & Feedlots, Inc. released a statement on Wednesday regarding an undercover video shot on one of its production sites by Mercy for Animals (MFA).
Brian Foster with Christensen Farms told Pork Network that the undercover activist was on the farm from this past November to February.
MFA posted a 4:14 minute version of the video and initiated a web campaign to encourage consumers to contact food companies whose pork supplies trace back to Christensen Farms.
Christensen Farms’ statement emphasized that it is a long-standing producer of high-quality pork products and a pioneer in seeking new ways to improve production procedures. “The Company is committed to utilizing best practices supported by scientific research to promote good individual animal health,” it said.
It points out that MFA is “an animal rights group that promotes veganism. The video purports to show a typical operation of a pork production facility, but the images shown in the video are dated and are intentionally taken out of context.”
“Taking proper care of our animals is our primary goal and essential to the success of
our business,” said Robert Christensen, chief executive officer of Christensen Farms.
“Over the years, we have continually challenged ourselves to improve our operational
practices and compliance with industry standards. As one of the largest pork
production companies in the U.S., we take our responsibility as a steward to the
industry and the animal very important.”
The statement points out that Christensen Farms recently elected to adopt a euthanasia method using carbon dioxide to prevent the suffering of sick or injured piglets. “The
Company continues to seek improvements, including evaluating options for animal
Housing,” it said.
Christensen Farms also provided the following response to specific issues targeted in the video:
1. Gestational Stalls/Individual Maternity Pens: Housing systems, such as
gestational stalls/individual maternity pens, allow producers to provide the best
individual care to sows and their piglets and are within standard animal welfare
practices. The company continues to monitor trends and implement changes
based on the latest research and customer feedback.
2. Blunt Force Trauma: Christensen Farms is a pioneer in seeking alternative
methods of animal care, such as the February 2012 decision to adopt a new
innovative method of euthanasia using carbon dioxide to prevent the suffering of
sick or injured piglets. Although manual blunt force trauma is accepted by the
American Association of Swine Veterinarians as a method of euthanasia, many
within the pork industry are exploring alternatives to this practice.
3. Tail Docking: This method of clipping the tail of young piglets is standard
animal welfare practice and is in fact done to prevent injury, infection, and death.
It is common for piglets to engage in tail biting of other piglets, which causes
physical damage and fear in animals.
4. Photos of Injured Pigs: Photos may have been taken out of context and did not
fully depict the hard work and care of the company’s on-farm staff. The injuries
shown in the Mercy for Animals video appear to have occurred just prior to the
footage being shot. Under existing procedures, those animals would have been
treated by staff on the farm under veterinary supervision.
Christensen Farms points out that the company performs periodic internal audits in addition to utilizing external expertise to provide input and perspective on production practices including animal welfare standards.
“We recognize our moral and ethical obligation to provide for the responsible treatment
of our animals,” said Dr. Laura Dalquist, DVM, a consulting veterinarian to Christensen
Farms. “Christensen Farms’ animal welfare practices are fully consistent with industry
standards for humane and ethical treatment of animals.”
Christensen Farms & Feedlots, began in 1974 as a small family operation. Today, it is among the largest producers of pork in the United States, with 162,500 sows and operations in six states throughout the Upper Midwest. Headquartered in Sleepy Eye, Minn., the Christensen family still runs the business.