Farm manager: People will be fired over cruelty to pigs

The Humane Society of the United States got word of possible harsh conditions at the farm called Wyoming Premium Farms in Wheatland, Wyo.

The Humane Society had an employee of theirs get hired on by the farm and that employee recorded some undercover video.

"We used hidden cameras, and our workers do their jobs," Paul Shapiro, vice president of the Farm Animal Protection division of the Humane Society of the United States, said. "When they gain employment at the facility, they do what they have been tasked to do and use a hidden camera to document what is going on around them."

Their video, which was captured in just 27 days, showed pigs living in gestation cages that allow no room for the animals. Workers strike and hit the animals with their fists and kick full-grown pigs and piglets in the video.

"We are also calling on criminal charges against workers in the video who are seen beating animals at this facility," Shapiro said. "We have met with the Platte County Sheriff's Department in Wyoming about this, and they are taking it very seriously."

This is not the first time this farm has made headlines. In 2001, about 2,000 piglets drowned when a worker forgot to turn off a water pump. In 2004, a couple sued the farm over wastewater coming from the farm.

"We will not tolerate abuse. It's just, not tolerable. And we've had isolated incidents in the past - and we've terminated the people," Doug DeRouchey, co-owner and manager of Wyoming Premium Farms, told 9NEWS.

He says he saw the video for the first time on Tuesday morning.

"There's probably possible major abuse, and that's a termination," DeRouchey said.

He says he can't guarantee everybody in the video will be fired. He says an investigation is underway to figure out what exactly happened.

"I just can't jump on what I've seen on 4 minutes on a video. I wasn't there," he added.

Over time, there have also been numerous complaints over the smell from the farm.

The company that owned the farm at the time, called Itoham, was dissolved just one month and two days ago. This farm is also rumored to be a major supplier for Tyson Foods. However, when 9NEWS contacted Tyson Foods, they claimed otherwise saying:

"Contrary to the impression left by HSUS, there is no connection between this Wyoming farm and the pork that we process. Tyson Foods does not buy any of the hogs raised on this farm for our pork processing plants.

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.

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."

The Humane Society responded to that statement saying:

"The connection between this investigation and Tyson Foods is crystal clear. The first page of the attached PDF is a "cull sheet" obtained directly from Wyoming Premium in which the company notes that it sold aged sows to Heinold Markets as recently as last month (the same month our investigator was at the facility). Heinold Markets is a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, as evidenced on page two of the PDF. Additionally, Tyson itself admits in its press statement regarding this investigation that, "We do have a small, but separate hog buying business that buys aged sows." (That business is Heinhold, which purchased sows from Wyoming Premium in April.)"

9NEWS spoke to Dr. Temple Grandin about the animal cruelty. Grandin is a professor of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University and is a large voice throughout the country in making the slaughter of animals more humane. She says she's appalled.

"I have worked for the last 35 years on animal handing, farms and slaughter plants ... and that's just absolutely not acceptable. You've got some problems here with neglect with heath issues, abusive, rough handling of pigs, and obviously some employees that aren't very well supervised. This place obviously need to be better managed," Grandin said.

9NEWS tried to reach out to Itoham, but on April 6, 2012, the company filed an article of dissolution with the Colorado Secretary of State's office. If you call its office, the mailbox is full with no other information to reach out to someone.

The Humane Society told 9NEWS that the Platte County, Wyo. Sheriff's Office is investigating the farm.

DeRouchey says he hired a woman who worked for him back in April. She said she had farm experience and that her boyfriend or significant other was going to school nearby.

DeRouchey says he wonders why she didn't ever come talk to him about what she had seen.

"If there was something there that was upsetting, in the abuse category, or misuse of something, how hard would it have been to stop and say something?" DeRouchey said.

Itoham Foods is based out of Tokyo, Japan. 9NEWS has been in contact with Tyson Foods, but has not heard back yet.

Wheatland is 170 miles north of Denver and 70 miles north of Cheyenne.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment