Tuesday, May 8, 2012

HSUS Targets Wyoming Pig Farm

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is at it again with another undercover video allegedly shot at a Wheatland, Wyoming pig farm. I just watched it, and there were instances were handling the hogs wasn't done appropriately. I am saying this as a person who just watched an extreme video, not someone who was actually present at the facilities and was involved in the entire situation the video shows quick blurbs of. I'm also not condoning or defending the people and actions shown in the video as they were mistreating the animals in some of the scenes.
I did also notice a few things that I'm guessing are in the animal's best interest. One example is they showed a sow with an iron ring holding her mouth still, and she was naturally squealing. The video then showed her feet being roped, and her being laid on her side while a voice talked about hurrying to pull the piglets (or something like that). It appeared the workers were trying to help that sow deliver her babies, and had her mouth controlled because a sow weighing several hundred pounds knows how to use her head and teeth on humans. Especially when she's in labor, I'm guessing. That wasn't to hurt her, it was to prevent injury to the people who were helping her deliver her litter of piglets, and to keep her piglets alive and her from suffering any health related issues that would arise if she didn't deliver them (like death...)
Furthermore, I noticed several situations that likely occurred despite any management efforts, like a prolapsed sow. Prolapses just happen, and nobody purposely makes them happen, or can do anything in advance to prevent an animal from prolapsing. The video says she was allowed to live like that for several days, but do we really know if that's the case based on a 3 second blip - no.
It also showed a dead baby piglet in the aisle, with the placenta over his head. This means he died at birth because he couldn't get oxygen, not that someone killed him or beat him. Unfortunately that happens within seconds following birth, and can occur even when you're watching things super close.
Then there was the mother pig eating the dead piglet, which is a perfect example of why sows who are about to farrow (have their piglets) are put in small pens (farrowing crates) where they cannot move around a lot. Some sows will kill their young intentionally, and others will accidentally lay on and accidentally suffocate them. As can also be seen in the video, when a sow is in farrowing crate, there are bars on the back and at least one side that are spaced so the piglets can walk under them. They are a certain length so the piglets are born out the back of the pen, and therefore as the sow continues to deliver her young and move about, she doesn't squish those who have already arrived. Through the bars on one side will be a heatlamp and some straw to keep the piglets warm and safe. Then they can move back under the bars to drink their mother's milk. Farrowing crates are carefully designed for the comfort and safety of both mother sow and baby piglets, and are a temporary pen for the sows during late pregnancy and labor.
One blaring question continues to burn in my mind whenever I watch one of these undercover videos: If the person shooting the video truly cares about animals, how can they simply allow mismanagement or neglect to continue while they film? The HSUS folks are all about attacking animal agriculture, not actually helping the few animals and situations they are able to find where everything is not taken care of in a top notch fashion. To me there is no better example of this than the videos they shoot, edit extensively, add music too, then release in dramatic fashion days, weeks, months (does anyone know the turnaround time?) while the same animals may be in need of help. That puts them at the same level as the person doing the actual abuse.

Here is what the attacked farm had to say in response to the video, and the undercover spy:

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.

I was first made aware of the situation when I was contacted on Friday by the Wyoming Livestock Board regarding a video the board had received. On Monday, I drove to Cheyenne to meet with the board and to view a video from the HSUS. Evidently, HSUS had placed an undercover spy in our workforce.

I was told that the undercover spy had pointed out certain items that she had noticed while working there to different people at the farm. However, never once did she express any concerns to me, the general manager and the person responsible for hiring her.
The video I saw at the Wyoming Livestock Board yesterday was troubling, but it did not contain some of the disturbing scenes shown in the video HSUS put online this morning. While still sitting at the Livestock Board’s conference table on Monday, I called the farm manager and asked him if he was made aware of comments from the employee we knew as Whitney Warrington. He said because she was new she always seemed to have new-person type of questions. He said he could not recall everything she said, but added he definitely would have remembered if anything about animal abuse had come out of her mouth.
After my meeting in Cheyenne, I contacted the farm managers and instructed them to conduct a meeting immediately to once again stress with our workers the importance of animal welfare. I then contacted our consulting veterinarian and asked him to join me for an unannounced herd visit. That visit occurred this morning. Our veterinarian also suggested we retain an independent 3rd party to review everything we do on our farm to give us comments and recommendations. We are doing that.

I take these allegations seriously. I am disappointed I did not hear them directly from Whitney Warrington while she was working on our farm so we could have addressed any concerns immediately. 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.
Once again, we will swiftly address any problems that are identified.
Doug DeRouchey

Hopefully Mr. DeRouchey takes care of the problems present in his operation immediately and the final result of this is improved handling and management of the hogs, and hopefully HSUS's delight in releasing a shocking video instead of taking immediate action didn't result in any more hogs being mistreated during the interim.
Here is a link where the video can be watched, and additional statements found. 
For those not familiar with HSUS, you can read about how they spend the dollars raised from videos like this one and through other extreme fundraising efforts here


  1. Sounds like a bunch of excuses for animal abuse and cruelty. I saw the video and there is NO EXCUSE for that treatment. I am disgusted. After reading this brief summery of more excuses I'm even more sick to my stomach. This video was a real awakening for me. No animal deserves to suffer like this so I can eat a frigin sandwich. I am very upset, will NEVER eat pork or any other meat for that matter again. It will change nothing but at least I know I am not contributing to these barbaric ways that unfortunately still exist today. Truly appalled.. Stop making excuses for animal cruelty...it would be differant if your legs were broke and someone was kicking you while down, or tossing your new born babies around. What's your excuse for that part of the video, the punching, hitting, kicking, throwing. There going to die anyway? So are people but we can't treat each other like that. That's illegal!!!! Ignorant!!!!

  2. Typical HSUS undercover video. There are things that need addressing, and employees that need firing. These practices are not typical of hog operations.
    I would love to know more about the guy "kicking/pushing" the sow. Was he an employee or planted by HSUS. He appeared to be wearing a hoodie, sneakers and jeans?? (the video is grainy) Hardly hog work wear. That just seemed to standout to me! Did you notice that??

  3. Heather, thanks for your thoughtful comments about the video and the situation. Animal abuse should not be tolerated. But even then, as you pointed out, there are lots of varied opinions on what specific actions classify as abuse. Some people personify animals with human emotions and I disagree with that. Humans have the responsibility to treat them fairly, but they are animals. Being raised to feed people. They're not pets. Not humans. They're animals.
    Being from Wheatland, we often hear about the worker turn-around at the pig farms. It's hard to retain good, quality laborers out there and if their employees are mishandling animals, I'm sure the management wants to know about it. It is unfortunate that these undercover spy's don't work with the farms to correct problems. Instead they allow the abuse to continue for their gain (only 1% of their HUGE budget goes to helping local pet shelters, by the way, wwww.humanewatch.org).

  4. I think it important to note not all images in this over edited video happen on this farm. Also there are things that occur in livestock production that can be misunderstood as abuse like prolapses, hoof rot, still born, assisted offspring delivery when shown in the wrong light. Even showing young piglets moving around can be misunderstood.

    Yes, there are images in the video that does require further investigation. I was disturbed by the way they were tossing the dead pigs around. I would like to see more respect given, even if the animal is dead. I know it can no longer feel any pain, but calmly place the carcasses in area to be hauled off for incineration.

  5. I agree with you, Elizabeth - and they have been fired. One HSUS employee planted who eggs on the other employees (who obviously are to damn stupid to think for themselves).

    As for those who believe EVERYTHING you see on video - don't tell us in the ag community how to do our jobs. The measures we use everyday have been used and perfected over hundreds of years and are closely regulated by local, state, and federal rules, regulations, and laws. If it weren't for those of us who raise pigs, sheep, cows, corn, wheat, barley, sugar beets, etc. you wouldn't have anything to eat (except low-quality imported "goods" that barely meet USDA standards).

  6. It's sad really, that not one of you has the guts to admit that what HSUS and other groups continually find is cruel, wrong, archaic and immoral. Instead, you make excuses, spout lies and generally shoot the messenger.

  7. Animal abuse! The fact that you have the nerve to excuse this type of behavior is sickening. Where are your morals? What if this were you or your children? Would this then be acceptable living conditions and "approved" behaviors? How you sleep at night I do not know. You make me sick!