A two-minute undercover video targeting Iowa Select Farms in Kamrar, IA  and the retail outlets it supplies with pork products got some serious reaction after it was released Wednesday.

Iowa Select Farms, fourth largest pork producer in the United States, has retained Dr. Anna Johnson, associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University, to conduct an investigation into the farm’s animal handling.

Howard Hill, senior veterinarian for Iowa Select, says the pork producer has a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse. It has suspended at least one worker involved without play pending the outcome of Dr. Johnson’s investigation.

Iowa Select supplies pork to JBS Swift, which sells through such retailers as Costco, Hy-Vee, Kroger, and Safeway. Hy-Vee said it “will only do business with suppliers that are committed to the human treatment of animals.”

Chicago-based Mercy for Animals released the video taken by one of its operatives who reportedly hired on at Iowa Select Farms as an employee.

The short film alleged to show piglets being castrated and their tails removed without the benefit of anesthetics, intestinal ruptures apparently resulting form botched castrations, and workers throwing piglets across the room.

JBS issued a statement saying the company was shocked by the way piglets were being treated at Iowa Select Farms, and said it will ensure treatment in the future meets all National Port Board standards.

Safeway said it will “not tolerate animal abuse of any kind.”

Meatingplace, the industry news site, reported on industry speculation that the real target of the undercover video is the common use of gestation stalls, also known as crates.

Castration and docked tails, are done shortly after birth and there is no approved painkiller for the procedure. While not condoning tossing pigs about, the industry does defend the use of gestation stalls to protect piglets after birth from sows. Gestation crates are banned in seven states and Smithfield Foods is phasing them out of its operations nationwide.

In a letter Mercy for Animals sent to the retailers, the cruel acts shown in the video were being used as  “leverage to ban gestation stalls,” National Pork Producers Council spokesman Dave Warner told Meatingplace.

  • federal microbiologist

    Like many Production Animal veterinarians who supervise CAFO ops, Howie Hill only steps inside the hog buildings, and actually sees the animals up-close, one or two times a year (at most).
    He rarely, if ever, directly scrutinizes animals for lesions or other signs of disease / maltreatment. Indeed, the majority of hands-on ‘veterinary care’ given the hogs in a CAFO is done by low-wage laborers (i.e., illegal immigrants) who may or may not have the equivalent of a high-school education.
    No CAFO owner is going to pay a DVM to come in and examine/treat 20 – 30 sick or injured animals out of the hundreds in a given structure. It simply is a waste of money and crimps the profit margin.
    Instead, Howie looks over sheets of statistics dealing with animal weights and weight gains, mortality / morbidity, feed utilization, etc. and makes recommendations: change the feed rations this way, schedule vaccinations on this date, reduce crowding by this many animals per square meter, etc. etc. For this advisory role he is paid a very comfortable salary as compared to, say, vets working in small animal / companion animal clinics.
    And of course, Howie’s other role is to provide sound bites and commentary advocating for industrial-scale animal production, mass / unregulated use of antibiotics for ‘animal health’, and touting the wonders and advantages of ‘modern agriculture’.
    And for those uncomfortable times when undercover videos surface showing very unpleasant, stomach-turning things happening to pigs reared by his employers, Howie’s job is to try and cast doubts on the veracity of what has been recorded.
    To Young Veterinarians with > $125,000 in Vet School debt: Production Animal Medicine is the high-paying way to go…. but you may not like all of what you wind up doing…..

  • charlesmathews

    These torture chambers for animals need to stop. What is wrong with people that can do things like this, how do they live with themselves. Absolutely disgraceful. Where is the protection for these animals, they are not “just animals” they are living, breathing creatures that feel pain http://bit.ly/kGScUl