Tyson Foods changes animal care policies at supplying farms after shocking video of piglets being kicked and tortured surfaced two months earlier
- Tyson food sent out letters on Wednesday to farms requiring that they stop employing ‘blunt force euthanasia’ as a means of killing piglets
- The animal rights activist group responsible for the video applauded Tyson’s animal rights efforts
- The abuse occurred at West Coast Farms between September and October
- Tyson contracted the farm to supply pork
- That contract was terminated when the footage was made public
Tyson Foods announced on Wednesday that they will be improving their animal care policies after shocking undercover footage of abuse at a supplying pig farm surfaced from an animal rights group.
Tyson food sent out letters on Wednesday to farms requiring that they stop employing ‘blunt force euthanasia’ as a means of killing piglets. They also told farms to use ‘pain mitigation techniques’ when castrating the piglets and when removing a part of the tail.
NBC reports that Tyson wrote in their letter that they understood how using blunt force to kill pigs ‘has been historically acceptable’ for some time in the meat industry but may not match the expectations of today’s customers or consumers.’Even though the letter strongly encourages that all farms end blunt force euthanasia, the only farms forced to adhere to the new policies are farms that have contracts with Tyson and where Tyson owns some of the animals. Farms not under contact can choose to apply the new standards or not to.
'We’re trying to balance the expectations of consumers with the realities of today’s hog farming business,' said the letter signed by a senior vice president and the vice president who runs the company’s Animal Well-Being Programs.
'We look forward to working with you on our current challenges,' it said.
The Executive Director of the animal rights group who filmed the video, Nathan Runkle was encouraged and appreciative of Tyson’s efforts.
'The announcement that Tyson is making significant animal welfare improvements, including urging its pork producers to move away from inherently cruel and restrictive gestation crates, signals an important new era and direction for the company,' said Runkle.
‘We urge Tyson to add more teeth to the new guidelines by making them a mandate for all of its pork producers, rather than a mere recommendation.’
The appalling video aired by NBC in November was shot at West Coast Farms between September and October by an activist with Mercy for Animals and shows pigs being punched, kicked, smashed into concrete and locked in cages so small they can’t even move.
The undercover worker who shot the video named ‘Pete’ told NBC news that the abuse was ‘commonplace’ at the farm.
West Coast Farms, in Oklahoma, supplied meat for Tyson, according to Mercy for Animals. Tyson severed all ties after the video was made public.
‘We’re extremely disappointed by the mistreatment shown in the video and will not tolerate this kind of animal mishandling,’ a Tyson spokesperson told The Daily Dot following the incident.
‘We are immediately terminating our contract with this farmer and will take possession of the animals remaining on the farm,’ he added.
Farm owner Lonnie Herring reportedly fired all employees involved in the video, but their faces were often obscured from sight.
The disturbing footage begins with a montage of animals being hit with wooden boards, kicked, beaten and lying in pools of blood or locked in cages.
The deplorable physical abuse didn’t just stop at kicking and punching the defenseless pigs.
Piglets also endured being violently shaken, thrown through the air only to be spiked on to the concrete floor like footballs or even held by the tail and swung repeatedly into the floor.
A walkway is shown with several bloody piglets on the ground having seizures or writhing in agony, blood is splattered everywhere.
Multiple piglets have their tails removed either with a shovel swung violently down on the tail, severing it, or with a pair of shears – no painkillers are administered.
Another unfortunate piglet is also shown being held by their hind legs and having their testicles removed, again without painkillers or anesthesia.
The suffering causes it to let out a loud squeal and violently shake.
A pregnant pig too fat to move is kicked, punched and has clumps of hair ripped out.
One pig had a bowling ball thrown at its head, other had their eyes gouged out or their ears violently pulled.
Pigs barely clinging to life are tossed in piles of dead pigs, they start to rot even though they are still living.
A Reddit user who once worked on a hog farm commenting that the abuse shown in the video is far from uncommon, but that this farm took it too far.
‘Piglets are killed by having their heads smashed against the concrete because it’s quick and if done properly (which those guys aren’t doing) the piglets are dead before they even know what happened,’ said legless_kraig.
‘Pulling by the ears to get them to move somewhere specific was common and kicking in the back end was too but realistically the pigs feel nothing from the kicking,’ he continued.
‘Gouging of the eyes was something that was done to the adult pigs when they weren’t moving down the aisles or being stubborn and hard to handle,’ the Redditor further explained.
The pigs are miserable. They are mistreated, malnourished and then sent to slaughter – if they endure the torture long enough to be that lucky.
Most of the employees are miserable too, legless_kraig wrote.
‘It wasn’t a job I felt proud of doing but I was young and needed a way to get money… that last year was a struggle every day to just drive to work.’
The owner of the farm, Lonnie Herring, said he was also shocked by the video.
'I was stunned that anyone could be that callous in their treatment of any animal,' said Lonnie Herring to NBC.
'After viewing the video, I immediately returned to my farm and terminated the employees seen in the video.'
Herring said that he used approved euthanasia methods he calls ‘humane.’ He also said workers are instructed to make sure an animal is dead before they leave it.
'It is a part of the business and there are prescribed methods of euthanasia and I follow those to a T,' said Herring.According to the Humane Society of the United States there has also been progress on its efforts to ban gestation crates.
Tyson Foods, another major pork producer, also took steps in that direction. The company, whose production is conducted primarily through its contractors and independent suppliers, has sent a letterto all the farmers in its pork system outlining desired improvements in its animal welfare program. While the letter contains several promising points on a variety of issues, like encouraging a shift away from “euthanizing” sick or injured piglets through blunt force trauma and urging the development of pain relief during castration and tail docking, the stand-out, in our view, is Tyson’s language on the issue of sow gestation crate confinement.
“We believe future sow housing should allow sows of all sizes to stand, turn around, lie down and stretch their legs,” writes Tyson, indicating that gestation crates – which prevent those behaviors – ought to be replaced with alternative housing systems. “We’re asking the contract farmers who manage Tyson-owned sows,” it continues, “to implement improved ‘quality and quantity of space’ standards in the design of any newly built or redesigned gestation barns beginning in 2014. We also strongly encourage the hog farmers who sell market hogs to Tyson to improve quantity and quality of space standards for sows when they or their piglet suppliers re-design or build new gestation barns.”
Unfortunately, Tyson’s letter does not mandate anything of its suppliers with regard to sow housing, nor does it outline any timeline by which alternative housing systems must be in place. Nonetheless, this is big movement from an important company. Tyson may still have a ways to go when it comes to shoring up a gestation crate-free supply system, but its first steps on this issue – like all steps on the path toward a more humane way of living or conducting business – are most welcome.”
Mere suggestions of [relatively] expensive humane upgrades on conditions aren’t going to have any effect insofar as the *mandatory* technological upgrades (which most large meat distributors require for farmers to maintain a contract, which they depend on for survival) cause these farmers to be hundreds of thousands in debt (which is why they are effectively indentured servants of monoliths like Tyson).
And the treatment of livestock will certainly not improve as long as workers’ conditions remain substandard. Change will happen when people choose to purchase from ethical producers (as we all know the incredibly obscene meat industry subsidies definitely won’t be ending any time soon). And not everyone can afford to buy ethical meat, so the pressure remains the responsibility of those who can (and those who can really owe it to themselves simply because of the substantial health benefits of additive-free products, which frequently overlap with ethical products).
:( “humanity” ……………you disgust me.
NY under water.
The eye-catching swimming pool in Mumbai, India, has been built to raise awareness about the threat of sea level rises as a result of global warming.
It was constructed by attaching a giant aerial photograph of the New York City skyline to the floor of the pool.
THATS SO SICK
Does the Right to Bear Arms need more justification than this photoset?
a government that kills their own people should NOT have the audacity to call themselves an authority . People who are dying are as young as 21 years old, they are killing their own people. To use advanced military weapons against their own civilians who are only using coke bottles of gas, burning tires and sticks for their defence is cowardly, disgusting and unacceptable. I hope the people of Ukraine can liberate from this terrible excuse of a government.
Im all for revolution under any oppressive regime, what I don’t like is the refusal to acknowledge how many of the protesters are neonazis or fascists. Do a bit of research that isn’t backed with a liberal bias.
Yeah, how many of them are fascists? Please, do tell me? Because maybe you should take your own advice and do some research. As a Ukrainian from Kiev, let me tell you that it’s a negligible amount.