A recent undercover investigation by The Humane Society of the United States at the Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Kentucky brought some truly horrifying and stomach-turning realities to light; topping this list is the fact that mother sows were fed ground up parts of their own piglets.
Investigators found that when over 900 piglets died from a highly contagious diarrheal disease within two days, their intestines were ground up and fed back to their mothers and other sows. Aside from the moral issues raised by this treatment, feeding pigs the body parts of their deceased fellows is, especially in case of disease, prohibited by state law. Unfortunately, this practice seems to be widely accepted and used in the pork industry.
The treatment of living animals at the Iron Maiden Hog Farm were no less inhumane. The investigators reported that almost all of the adult pigs were crammed into tiny gestation crates where they spent their lives unable to turn around or fully lay down. Sick and injured sows and piglets were left unattended for days at a time and many died slowly, alone and in pain. Adding to their misery, sows who became too weak to walk had their legs tied together to prop them upright in their pens. Many had been tied so tightly for so long that the ropes had cut into their flesh and the skin had grown around them.
Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at The Humane Society of the United States, said “[t]he entire atmosphere is awful for animals, many of whom are perpetually immobilized and suffering from body sores, dierrhea attacks and prolapsed uteruses.” In light of the recent investigation, the HSUS is asking the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission to end gestation crate confinement and put an end to the feeding of deceased piglets to other animals.
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