Group claims abuse at Colo. pig farm

YUMA COUNTY- A national nonprofit organization called Mercy for Animals released another video they say shows animal abuse, this time at a pig farm in Yuma County, Colo.

An undercover investigator for the group worked at the farm for months. The farm is owned by Seaboard Foods which supplies Walmart with pork products. Footage shows workers snipping tails of piglets and castrating them. Workers also hit piglets with canisters filled with rocks to get the animals to move where farmers want them.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says tail snipping and castration are common practices on hog farms to both protect animals from infection, and to ensure testosterone does not get into the meat, making it hard to eat.

"This particular video in fact includes some outright lies. Sows in gestation stalls do not lose their minds. They don't go mad," said Dave Warner, communications director for the NPPC.

The video, narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix, points fingers at Walmart, calling on the supermarket giant to stop purchasing pork from farms that use gestation crates.

"Gestation crates, barely bigger than their own bodies, unable to turn around, stretch their limbs or lie down comfortably for nearly their entire lives," said Matt Rice, director of investigations for Mercy for Animals.

Gestation crates are still widely used by hog farmers across the country but many companies are beginning to phase out the use. In fact, Colorado will completely ban the use of gestation crates in 2018. Eight other states have done the same thing.

Members of Mercy for Animals also say they witnessed mother sows with open wounds and sores that were not properly cared for. Even so, the group acknowledges the undercover investigator did not witness anyone breaking a law in the Yuma County farm.

In the video, Joaquin Phoenix reminds people that the easiest way to stop abuse is to become a vegetarian. Its lifestyle Mercy for Animals supports in hopes of ending what they see as inhumane practices altogether.

This is not the first undercover video done by Mercy for Animals. Previous videos showing clear abuse have caused farms to apologize for their actions. That was not the case with this video. Both Seaboard Farms and Walmart provided responses to the video below.

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Seaboard Foods released the following statement in response to the video:

We recognize that sometimes even the best practices as determined by veterinarians and animal care experts can seem uncomfortable to those who don't spend their days with these animals, but at Seaboard Foods, we are committed to doing what is best for the pigs and the safety of our food.

Our entire team of animal care experts is dedicated to ensuring our pigs are comfortable and healthy and so that we can deliver safe, nutritious and delicious pork to our customers.

We follow a veterinarian-developed animal care and welfare plan that is consistent with what experts know to be the safest way to raise pigs. Our employees are trained in and commit to the proper and humane treatment of our animals every step of the way.

We know people have questions about how pork is raised for food. We have filmed our vets at our farms in our barns talking about how we choose housing for our pigs and how we ensure our pigs' health and well-being. To learn more, visit www.SeaboardFoods.com.

Walmart also responded the video release:

We hold all of our suppliers to the highest standards and do not tolerate the mistreatment of animals. Our policy requires suppliers and producers to source only from farms certified as adhering to pork industry and USDA standards for the treatment of animals.

We also provide our customers choices. Today in more than 2,000 stores we offer the option of gestation stall-free pork.

This is a complicated issue. We continue to encourage a productive conversation among farmers, food manufacturers and animal rights organizations. Our aim is always to provide safe, affordable and sustainable food choices for our customers, and to support the humane treatment of animals.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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