Officials Look Into Allegations Of Animal Abuse At Wyoming Farm
WHEATLAND, Wyo. (CBS4) – Wyoming state livestock officials are looking into allegations of animal abuse at pig farm in Wheatland.
The Humane Society of the United States released undercover video they claim was taken at the farm.
The group says the video was taken last month at Wyoming Premium Farms after they received a tip from a whistleblower and sent in an undercover employee. Workers are seen pushing pigs around and one woman even bounces on the back of another. The group also says some of the pigs were abused so badly they died.
The video also shows pigs living in confined gestational cages, unable to move.
Other video shows piglets being tossed around. The video may be disturbing to watch for some people.
The Humane Society says the pig breeding facility is a pork supplier for Tyson Foods.
“The level of abuse was ruthless. As you can see in the video, workers were vicious with animals; punching them in the face, kicking them, cursing at them, jumping up and down on their broken limbs,” Paul Shapiro with the Humane Society of the United States said. “This is the type of abuse that is so extreme that most people would be appalled to bear witness to it.”
The group is demanding changes and wants charges filed.
“I would anticipate there might be charges,” said Jimmy Siler, an investigator with the Wyoming Livestock Board. “I hope we’d have some answers in the next couple days. … It was probably not proper handling of the animals. If I’m a producer I wouldn’t want my workers handling my product that way.”
So far CBS4 has been unable to speak directly with representatives of Wyoming Premium Farms or from Tyson Foods, but both groups released the following statements on Tuesday.
The statement from Wyoming Premium Farms is as follows:
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.
The statement from Tyson Foods is as follows:
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.
For information on the pork industry’s ‘We Care’ responsible pork initiative, go to porkcares.com.