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:
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.