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.”