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January 31, 2012

Undercover Video Documents Abuse of Pigs at Okla. Factory Farms

The HSUS files complaints with SEC, FTC

An undercover investigation of two of the nation's top pork suppliers, including a Walmart supplier, revealed inhumane treatment of pigs.

UPDATE Feb. 9, 2012: In response to Seaboard's reaction to this investigation, The HSUS filed additional legal complaints with the SEC and the FTC.

Media: get video b-roll of the investigation
Facebook users: "Like" HSUS's farm animal protection work on Facebook

(Jan. 31, 2012) The Humane Society of the United States released undercover videos taken at Oklahoma pig breeding facilities owned by two leading U.S. pork producers and filed legal complaints with the U.S. Securities and Exchange and Federal Trade Commission alleging false and misleading statements about animal care by one of the producers.

Take action now: Ask Seaboard and Prestage to end their use of cruel gestation crates.

The videos, shot in late 2011, were taken at two Goodwell, Okla. pig breeding facilities—one owned by Seaboard Foods and the other by Prestage Farms—and show animals suffering inside cramped gestation crates and, in some cases, at the hands of abusive employees. Lame pigs, pigs with gross abscesses, torn ears and noses, and ripped genitals and piglets sickened by "greasy pig" disease were not seen by veterinarians.

Seaboard is the nation's third-largest pork producer, and a supplier to Walmart. Prestage is the nation's fifth-largest pork producer.

The graphic videos document prolonged suffering of pigs used for breeding who are confined in cages so small the animals can't even turn around, rendering them virtually immobilized for their entire lives.

Out of step

"The pork industry's notorious disregard for animal welfare is perhaps greater than in any other sector of the meat industry," said Paul Shapiro, HSUS senior director of farm animal protection. "Permanently cramming pigs into cages so small they can barely move is simply out of step with mainstream American values about the proper treatment of animals."

Seaboard Foods' own animal welfare advisor, Temple Grandin, Ph.D. has stated, "I feel very strongly that we've got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go." Grandin has also stated, "Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life."

Abuse and filth

In addition to the extreme confinement endured by animals at both facilities, the investigations found workers cutting piglets' testicles and tails off with no painkiller, injured piglets with their legs duct-taped to their bodies, gestation crates overflowing with feces and urine, and employees hitting pigs' genitals to force them to move from one crate to another.

Because the abuse documented at the Seaboard facility is in stark contrast to statements on the company's website about animal care, The HSUS filed legal complaints against the company with the SEC and FTC urging the agencies to require that Seaboard stop misleading its shareholders and the public.

The HSUS notes that Seaboard and Prestage are lagging behind their competitors in the pork industry when it comes to animal welfare. Cargill has transitioned 50 percent of its sow operations from gestation crates to group housing, and Smithfield Foods has pledged to be gestation crate-free by 2017.

Facts

  • Extensive scientific research confirms that gestation crate confinement causes suffering.
  • Eight U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to phase out the gestation crate confinement of pigs.

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Media Contact: Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518

Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our "HumaneTV" app.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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