An expert panel, convened by the Center for Food Integrity, has reviewed the video released this week by the Humane Society of the United States. Their conclusion is that the activities shown were "unacceptable and indefensible." The panel that examined the recent video from the hog production operation in Wyoming include Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State University; Dr. Candace Croney, Purdue University; and Dr. John Deen, University of Minnesota.
Here's a rundown of their report as released by CFI:
"There's definitely abusive animal handling shown in that video," said Grandin. "Kicking and throwing piglets? This farm definitely has management issues. A well run operation would not be doing these kinds of things."
"This video was an incredibly disturbing, saddening and horrific example of the worst kind of animal handling," said Croney. "What I saw is the antithesis of every professional standard for animal care and handling published in any industry guideline or any certification program. I cannot imagine that anyone in the swine industry who considers themselves a responsible actor could support what is seen in that video. The handling of the animals shown is scientifically and morally indefensible."
"It's unacceptable," said Deen. "It's not consistent with handling practices in training programs that have been created and with expectations by the farming community. The actions seen in this video are abusive to the pigs and unacceptable to society as a whole. "
Croney cited specific instances of animals being kicked, and piglets being picked up by one ear and tossed significant distances as examples of unacceptable animal care. Deen cited a scene showing a sow unable to get to a water source as an example of the need for timely and humane euthanasia. Grandin noted veterinary care should have been provided a sow seen with a necrotic prolapse.
The experts noted the video was comprised of brief excerpts and that being allowed to view unedited footage might possibly have allowed them to place the case in better context.
"But there is no context I can think of that would make the egregious handling seen in this video acceptable," said Croney. "If what is captured in this video is an accurate portrayal of what's going on at this farm, there are so many different people complicit in abusive handling that it strongly suggests there is a culture in this particular facility of absolute indifference to the animals. It totally contradicts all the hard work and efforts of those in the industry who are committed to providing quality animal care. That kind of attitude has to be corrected from the top down. They need to look very carefully at what's happening on their farm – who they're selecting to work there, what sort of education they're offering their people, and make a concerted effort to correct all of the problems that were clearly evident in that video."
"I'm not making excuses for this farm because we've got to do a better job," said Deen. "But sometimes when these farms are in remote locations it's difficult to have people who recognize pig farming as a complex and responsible activity. Hog farm workers need to understand right from wrong and when they see things that aren't consistent with good animal care they need to let somebody know."
Grandin noted that undercover video obtained from an Iowa hog farm that was reviewed by the panel in February did not show any animal mistreatment. "That farm obviously has worked with their employees on the proper way to handle pigs," said Grandin. "The owners of this facility need to get much better management."
CFI says it attempts to receive complete and in-context video footage from the organization that obtained it. The group says "this provides the best opportunity for the panel to have a full understanding of the situation. Short of that, the panel will review edited segments that have been released to the public.