HSUS releases video shot at Wyoming Premium Farms

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Capitalizing on the attention of Safeway announcing its new directive regarding gestation-sow housing, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released an undercover video on Tuesday that was shot at Wyoming Premium Farms (WPF) in April. Further investigations are underway.

Located near Wheatland, Wyo., the sow, breeding, gestation and farrowing unit is owned by Itoham Corp., a Japanese company with U.S. headquarters in Denver, Colo. WPF’s Wheatland location is reported to have an average of 11,000 to 13,800 sows and piglets on site at any given time. WPF has three other sites Wyoming, all of which are owned by Itoham America.

HSUS told Pork Network that the investigator worked at the site for 27 days. WPF indicates that the undercover investigator was a woman. The video focuses on gestation-sow stalls and the workers mis-handling of sows and piglets. Among the images are downed and injured sows, a sow with a prolapsed uterus, piglets being tossed and swung by legs and ears. (Click here to view the video.)

HSUS contends that some hogs from the Wheaton WPF site have been sold to Tyson Foods, for processing. It points to a copy of a WPF “cull sheet” showing the sale of culled sows to Heinold Markets in April. Heinold Markets is a subsidiary of Tyson Foods. HSUS is a Tyson shareholder and has attempted to pressure the company into implementing a ban on the use of gestation-sow stalls.

On its website, HSUS also is encouraging the public to contact Tyson Foods, and provides the following message: “I'm greatly concerned by Tyson's refusal to follow other pork companies' lead and develop a plan for getting gestation crates out of your supply chain. Like most people, I care about animals and want farm animals to be treated well. I hope you'll commit to ending your suppliers' use of cruel gestation crates.”

In response to whether it buys and processes hogs from the WPF site in question, Tyson said in a statement: “We do have a small, but separate hog buying business that buys aged sows; however, these animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson’s pork processing business.”

Regarding the video, Tyson’s statement said: “We’ve seen the video and we are appalled by the apparent mistreatment of the animals. We do not condone for any reason this kind of mistreatment of animals shown in the video.

“Virtually all of the hogs Tyson buys for our processing plants come from thousands of independent farm families who use both individual and group housing. We require all hog farmers who supply us to be certified in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which incorporates rigid animal well-being standards and is part of the industry’s ‘We Care’ responsible pork initiative. We validate enrollment and audit conformance to these standards. Farms that do not conform will be eliminated from our supply chain.”

Wyoming state livestock officials are investigating the allegations of animal abuse, according to CBS4, a Denver television station.

“I would anticipate there might be charges,” Jimmy Siler, an investigator with the Wyoming Livestock Board told CBS4. “I hope we’d have some answers in the next couple days….It was probably not proper handling of the animals. If I’m a producer I wouldn’t want my workers handling my product that way.”

While, not available for comment, WPF released a statement attributed to Doug DeRouchey, which included:  “The video of a Wyoming Premium Farms sow barn posted online this morning by HSUS shows some practices that are not and will not be tolerated. The owners and managers of the farm are investigating the incidents shown in the video and wish to assure everyone we will take action to correct all problems and to deal appropriately with any employees that were involved.”

The Wyoming Livestock Board received the video last Friday and informed WPF of the video on Monday, which WPF representatives then reviewed. However, DeRouchey contends that the video WPF saw “did not contain some of the disturbing scenes shown in the video HSUS put online this morning.”

WPF has since held meetings with farm managers and workers as well as the company’s consulting veterinarian. A third-party audit of animal handling and care protocols is scheduled.

 “We take the pork industry’s We Care initiative seriously and are committed to the well-being of all our animals and to the safety of our workers…we will swiftly address any problems that are identified,” DeRouchey said.

The National Pork Producers Council agreed that the video “shows practices that are abhorrent to U.S. pork producers…Providing humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life is one of the ethical principles to which U.S. pork producers adhere. U.S. pork producers are committed to caring for animals in a way that protects their well-being.

“Just as it is to others, mistreatment of animals is appalling to pork producers. We do not defend and will not accept mistreatment of animals…Individuals responsible for willful abuse of animals must be held accountable.”

An Animal Care Review Panel, organized by The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) is analyzing the actions shown in the HSUS undercover video and will release a response. “This process engages recognized animal care specialists to examine video and provide expert perspectives for food retailers, the pork industry and the media,” CFI explains.

The panel includes a veterinarian, an ethicist and an animal scientist:

•    Dr. Temple Grandin, animal scientist and animal-handling expert, Colorado State University
•    Dr. Candace Croney, ethicist, Purdue University
•    Dr. John Deen, DVM, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

CFI officials emphasize that the panel works without involvement of national species organizations. CFI will release the panel’s analysis within 48 hours.

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Travis Dunekacke    
Nebraska  |  May, 08, 2012 at 05:10 PM

These type of undercover videos will only increase as long as these large, corporate, out of state or country, out of sight & mind sow units continue to employ immature, improperly trained, uneducated, and inexperienced people!

Germany  |  May, 09, 2012 at 08:53 AM

you can also answer in this way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytRgCi_mm2g&lr=1&feature=watch

California  |  May, 08, 2012 at 06:26 PM

“We take the pork industry’s We Care initiative seriously and are committed to the well-being of all our animals and to the safety of our workers…we will swiftly address any problems that are identified,” DeRouchey said. If Wyoming Premium Farms is so committed, they will immediately address the "problem" of gestation crates and get rid of them. The National Pork Producers Council agreed that the video “shows practices that are abhorrent to U.S. pork producers…Providing humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life is one of the ethical principles to which U.S. pork producers adhere. U.S. pork producers are committed to caring for animals in a way that protects their well-being." Oh, yeah? Well, gestation crates do NOT protect the animals' well-being. Get rid of them or consider yourselves full of pig sh*t!

Missouri  |  May, 09, 2012 at 10:26 AM

HSUS sickens me in this aspect: They find the one place doing harm to animals, and ruin it for the rest of us. Good farmers will admit that there are people out there who mistreat animals, who make the rest of us look bad. But that DOES NOT mean that all of us are like that. My family raises show hogs, those things get treated better than I do. I love my pigs to pieaces, and I know a lot of people who do as well. People see the bad in one american farmer and stereotype the rest of us into that same group.

North-Rhine-Westfalia, Germany  |  May, 09, 2012 at 08:52 AM

a real good undercover video you can find here (regretably only in German): tenor = a group of activists enter a pig farm - but can't find any sick animals or welfare problems. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytRgCi_mm2g&lr=1&feature=watch Nice to see

Daniel Jones    
Iowa  |  May, 09, 2012 at 09:51 AM

While this video is graphic, and, tragically, shows extreme mis-treatment of animals by workers it has nothing to do with the proper use and maintenance of herd activities using gestation stalls. The workers actions are to be condemned and they should be removed from positions that require them to care for livestock since they obviously are not capable of performing that activity. All this buzz about gestation stalls being “the issue” when that is not the issue is getting old. People make the farms run, or not run, in an ethical format. If HSUS really cared about the animals in these facilities and not just about trying to abolish meat animal production they would place the focus where it needs to be and use their considerable resources to work with our industry to address the people issue and stop focusing on the inanimate objects that make no difference in "how" the animals are handled and cared for.

california  |  May, 10, 2012 at 11:29 AM

You have to know if this video was made by animal rights people then its been tampered with on site and later in the editing. In previous videos it was clear that the videos were made somewhere else and that the video camera man was doing the abuse. I wouldn't believe any video made by these people as they lie and string clips together and slant the videos. You don't even know if they are made where and when they say the are made. Just more animal rights lies to black mail people into doing things their way. There should be a law like the child abuse law that if you see abuse you must report it right away to the owner for them to take steps. None of these people every consult with the owners. If a teacher spots child abuse they report it and then its investigated by the authorities. If its found to be true action is taken, but if not then if the report was honest it ends there. But to put this stuff out before the company or owner has any recourse is libel at best and is nothing more than blackmail. This woman who supposedly saw this abuse for 27 days allowed this to go on is part of the problem and should also spend time n jail for abuse of animals for a more nefarious purpose called blackmailing the company instead of being an honest employee and reporting it to the supervisor or the company owner.

South Dakota  |  May, 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Further investigations are needed? It is pretty clear from the images that there is criminal activity occurring against defenseless animals that will eventually end up on our plates. So, the beaten meat will be eaten by unknowingly happy eaters. That is wrong in so many ways.

Florida  |  May, 17, 2012 at 08:32 AM

I remember while traveling thru Spain many decades ago-hiking through the countryside- I saw a momma pig take all her piglets down to the stream for a bath. I remember how CLEAN the free roaming pigs on that farm were. I know that these pigs had a full life until the time they were slaughtered and put on my plate. As a child we raised pigs in the same way-I was appalled the first time I saw how others raised pigs in filthy pens - These are highly intelligent animals and are extremely close to humans in DNA-so to call them "things" in one breath and then delclare ones love for Them, shows the phycosis permenating today's "Future Farmers" for Profit.

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