Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

January 28, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #3 Volume 2


CONTENTS


1. Former Circle Four Pig Farms Employees Speak Out
2. More on Circle Four Investigation
3. Australian Boycott & Raid for Pigs
4. Minimum Standards Against Intensive Confinement Fires
5. Miscellaneous Pig Housing Information
6. PIC USA "Launches Camborough 23 Gilt"
7. Gruesome Details of Poultry Processing
8. Trust and Transparency: Industry
9. Disney Does Animal Agriculture

 

1. FORMER CIRCLE FOUR PIG FARMS EMPLOYEES SPEAK OUT
Two former Circle Four Farms (CFF) workers came forward with complaints about the pig operation after seeing news reports about a recent clandestine investigation (see N.2, V2.). Wayne and Krysta Jenson had briefly worked at CFF in 2001 but say they quit because of the way pigs were treated. The Jensons' claim that, although the pigs were kept clean and well fed, four practices in particular disturbed them. CFF officials did not respond to the charges but Paul Sundberg, assistant vice president of veterinary issues for the National Pork Board (NPB), offered information about the practices in general.
 
Castration: Wayne Jenson, who grew up on a sheep farm, said the castration tools and training workers received were inadequate. This resulted in unnecessary pain to piglets, ruptures, and in some cases death when the animals' intestines were pulled out along with their testicles. Sundberg said industry guidelines call for workers to be properly trained and to use proper equipment.
 
Killing piglets: Piglets not weighing at least 5 pounds after a week were "knocked," most commonly by having his or her head slammed into a wall or concrete floor. The Jensons said about 6 piglets were killed each day, and it sometimes took 2 or 3 blows to kill a piglet. Sundberg said that, while not pleasant, the "blunt trauma" method is humane and is recognized as an acceptable method of "euthanasia" by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. He said ideally a pig will die from the initial blow.
 
Sow beating: The Jensons said they twice saw workers beat uncooperative sows, including once with a metal bar. Sundberg said industry guidelines do not support beating animals, noting "There can be nothing but zero tolerance for any abuse." (See item 2, N.2, V.2).
 
General Sow Treatment: Krysta Jenson remarked on the cramped pens impregnated pigs are kept in to give birth and nurse their babies. She said the pigs became visibly upset upon the removal of their piglets. According to Sunberg, an international panel of animal welfare experts will soon publish an article concluding that a stall in which a sow cannot turn around is no more or less humane than a sow in a pen or in a pasture. (See item #3 below, issue #88 and: http://www.freefarmanimals.org/gc_evidence.htm ) He also said there is no scientific evidence that removing piglets is deleterious to a sow.
 
Sundberg said the NPB is developing a certification program of objective criteria for assessing the humaneness of a pig operation. Pig veterinarians will receive training in the NPB's Swine Welfare Assurance Program (SWAP) to prepare for possible on-farm assessments. SWAP is a voluntary program to evaluate pig welfare in all types and sizes of farms during all phases of production. It evolved from the Swine Welfare Index System, which focused on gestating pigs. Presently, there are no plans for independent audits of animal welfare at intensive confinement operations.  
 
"Workers Upset by Conditions at Hog Farm," The Salt Lake Tribune, Brent Israelsen, 1/23/03.
http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jan/01232003/utah/22578.asp
"Welfare ProgramTraining Set," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, December 15, 2002.
http://nationalhogfarmer.com/ar/farming_welfare_program_training/index.htm
 

2. MORE ON CIRCLE FOUR INVESTIGATION
The Beaver County sheriff has begun an investigation into the activities conducted by the Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) against Circle Four Farms (CFF, see above and N.2, V.2). The company complained to the sheriff about the two pigs, which it had not known were missing until UARC's announcement. Farmed animals are not covered under Utah's animal-cruelty laws, but stealing a farmed animal is a felony. While the pigs are valued at about $30 each, stealing $60 worth of tools or beer, for example, is a misdemeanor.
 
CFF says it insists on the humane treatment of animals, noting that it employs a full-time veterinarian to monitor them. Animal-rights activists counter that for a single vet working 40 hours a week to give an annual exam to each of the 500,000 pigs housed at CFF at any one time, the vet would have to examine 2,000 pigs daily. The paper also carried an op-ed about CFF, factory farming and food safety: http://www.sltrib.com/2003/jan/01192003/opinion/opinion.asp
 
"Sheriff Investigating Activists' Visit to Hog Farm," Salt Lake Tribune, Brent Israelsen, 1/17/03.
http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jan/01172003/utah/21028.asp
 

3. AUSTRALIAN BOYCOTT & RAID FOR PIGS
A boycott of pig meat was launched in Australia last week by animal protection advocates in protest of keeping pigs in gestation stalls. The campaign, announced by bioethicist Peter Singer (see issues #69 & 93), is in anticipation of the government's review of the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Pigs, expected in the next 12-18 months. Gestation stalls have been banned in the U.K. and in Florida (see issue #92), and are being phased out in the European Union and New Zealand. An industry spokesperson said: "The farmers are complying with the code of practice. If it gets changed, we will comply with that."
 
Members of Animal Liberation SA raided a South Australian pig operation as part of the campaign. The activists welded together a number of stalls, which they said were under the recommended size. (Under the Australian code of practice for the welfare of pigs, sows can be kept in stalls measuring 2 meters by 60 centimeters [6.5 feet by 2 feet]. Sows range in size from 1.5 to 2 meters [5-6.5 feet] in length and 40 centimeters [16 inches] wide.) The organization wants the stalls banned entirely and requests that sows be put in group pens with enough room to turn around, and straw bedding so the sows don't have to spend years lying on wet, cold concrete. Australia's main pig industry lobbyist rejected the claims that undersized stalls are being used. He pointed out that the RSPCA has investigated past claims and "found that everything is in order." The RSPCA, however, confirmed the welded stalls were indeed smaller than the code recommends. The organization explained that the code is not legally enforceable and it is going to ask the government to give the code legal status when it reviews the document. The Australian Democrats agree that sow stalls are cruel and are supporting the campaign.
 
"Pork Boycott Urged Over Sows' Cramped Quarters," The Age, Chee Chee Leung, Jan. 21, 2003
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/20/1042911327398.html
"Liberationists Raid Piggeries," ABC Rural News, January 21, 2003.
http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/stories/s766975.htm
 

4. MINIMUM STANDARDS AGAINST INTENSIVE CONFINEMENT FIRES
In New Zealand, a fire that killed 400 pigs last week has renewed the SPCA's concern for the safety of animals in intensive confinement. An SPCA spokesperson pointed out that in large confinement systems, thousands of animals can be affected when things go wrong. The organization would like to see a move to free range systems where animals have more space. Animal welfare codes to be introduced later this year will put in place minimum standards to prevent fires in intensive confinement systems. The fire is believed to have been started by a heat lamp knocked over by a pig.     
 
"Piggery Fire Sparks Safety Concerns," One News, January 20, 2003.
http://onenews.nzoom.com/onenews_detail/0,1227,162783-1-7,00.html
 

5. MISCELLANEOUS PIG HOUSING INFORMATION
Advancements in sow housing was discussed at the recent Banff Pork Seminar held in Alberta, Canada. In general, group housing offers increased mobility, socialization and choice for sows. Fighting over food can be alleviated with electronic sow feeders which allow individual feeding and monitoring: http://131.104.232.9/animalnet/2003/1-2003/animalnet_january_23-2.htm
 
Gestation stalls are used as an example to compare different ethical perspectives concerning animal welfare. The four perspectives, as proposed by bioethicist Bernard Rollin, are: traditional, popular, religious, and legal: http://www.porkmag.com/news_editorial.asp?pgID=677&ed_id=1573&component_id=807
 
German research indicates that piglets prefer heated waterbeds to other means of warmth. Use of the beds also resulted in fewer piglet injuries: http://www.porkmag.com/news_editorial.asp?pgID=677&ed_id=1676
 
STREMODO is the name of a new device developed to monitor the sounds occurring in pig facilities and trucks. The remote warning device, developed in Germany, is intended to provide early detection and warning whenever animals come under stress: http://www.stress-counselling.co.uk/pigs.htm 
 
"The Pig Page" is an entire section of articles and links in The New Farm magazine devoted to alternative pig production: http://www.newfarm.org/depts/pig_page/index.shtml
 

6. PIC USA "LAUNCHES CAMBOROUGH 23 GILT"
PIC (Pig Improvement Company) USA has announced the availability of "Camborough 23," a new "female product offering." Camborough 23 refers to a type of gilt [a female pig who hasn't given birth] described as "a very durable female also demonstrating strong performance in the areas of prolificacy and maternal instincts," who produce "terminal progeny with very competitive growth rates, feed conversions and lean content values." This combination of characteristics is noted as being "of specific value to producers with less than optimal production environments." The gilts are said to have been bred in "the severe environmental conditions found in state-owned farms behind the Iron Curtain." A Midwestern operator testifies: "The Camborough 23 pigs are rugged, hardy and hold up well in my pen gestation facilities." 
 
"PIC USA Launches Camborough 23 Gilt," Farm Progress, John Otte, January 7, 2003.
http://www.directag.com/directag/news/article.jhtml?article_id=1009123
See also: http://www.pic.com/news_desk/display.cfm?ID=103 and http://www.pic.com
 

7. GRUESOME DETAILS OF POULTRY PROCESSING
Consumers don't want to know the "gruesome details" of poultry processing. That was the conclusion the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conveyed to poultry industry participants at the International Poultry Exposition (IPE) held in Atlanta last week. Customers trust retailer "to make sure that the food you're selling us has been produced under animal welfare guidelines," said an FMI spokesperson who is working with industry to draft a set of welfare standards. Animal rights activists say people might stop eating chickens if they knew about the "gory process." PETA is publicizing the most common form of chicken slaughter. Instead of being bled to death, the organization charges that many birds are still alive by the time they reach a tank of scalding water [intended to loosen feathers]. Industry officials say poultry processing is safe, humane and efficient, and consumers don't want to hear about it. PETA wants the current method replaced with lethal doses of gas. Industry officials say that would be too costly.
 
At an IPE workshop, animal welfare professor Janice Swanson cited scientific research on the amount of cage space needed for a chicken to be comfortable and productive (about 72 square inches). A PETA spokesperson called the research "laughable," noting that at that density chickens would be "literally living one on top of the other for their entire miserable lives." (See also Table 1 (72 sq. in = 464 sq. cm): http://www.ciwf.co.uk/Pubs/Reports/Do_Hens_Suffer.pdf )
 
"Poultry Producers Address Issues of Fowl Treatment," Associated Press, Louise Chu, 1/24/2003
http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/news/politics/5024570.htm
 

8. TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY: INDUSTRY
In his latest "Perspective" column, Meat Processing editor Steve Bjerklie takes the industry to task for its unwillingness to share food safety and animal welfare information with the public "and the public's representative, the media." He writes: "Historically, the meat industry in America in general has felt a deep reluctance to allow the public to view its operations....An opinion that the public can't understand or comprehend why a meat plant must do what a meat plant does is condescending, disrespectful, and a big first step toward completely losing the public's trust. Moreover, in an information vacuum the public as well as the media will tend to suspect the worst. The industry has only itself to blame for that: its long record of evasion and closed-doors guarantees it. Thus, the vacuum is best filled by the industry, by being open to public and media inquiry."
 
The American Meat Institute (AMI) cast the votes in favor of member companies freely sharing food safety and animal welfare information with each other. [AMI is now refusing to allow interested members of the animal protection community to attend its upcoming Animal Care and Handling Conference (see issue #100), including a reporter for Farmed Animal Watch.]  
 
"Perspective," Meat Processing News Online, Steve Bjerklie, January 21, 2003.
http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=4750
 

9. DISNEY DOES ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is the newest exhibitor at the EPCOT Center at Disney World. AFBF is taking over an agricultural biotechnology exhibit which has in recent years been sponsored by Monsanto, a leading biotech company. Monsanto has donated the exhibit and space to AFBF which is to cover future costs of operation and maintenance. The focus of the exhibit will be broadened to tell urban Americans more about modern agriculture. "Most people have a 40-to-50-year-old picture of American agriculture," explained an AFBF spokesperson. The exhibit will try to update public impressions of farms and ranches.   
 
"Farm Bureau Takes Over EPCOT Ag Exhibit," Farm Progress, Ed Maixner, January 21, 2003.
http://www.directag.com/directag/news/article.jhtml?article_id=1009085