Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

April 1, 2004                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #44 Volume 2

 

CONTENTS


1.  "Third World Prison For Pigs"; Pictorial Expose'
2.  Transport & Slaughter Cruelties Documented
3   European Rules: Transport, Export & Slaughter
4.  Australia to Again Regulate Live Animal Trade; Revealing Footage
 

1.  "THIRD WORLD PRISON FOR PIGS"; PICTORIAL EXPOSE'
When the owner of HKY Farm, a Nebraska pig breeding farm, failed to respond to manager Joe Suing's requests for help, he called the Humane Farming Association (HFA) which in turn invited the Chicago Tribune for a tour. In addition to the stench of "manure, ammonia and death," and "the sound of dozens of sows screaming and thrashing in their cages," reporter Andrew Martin relates: "Dozens of dead piglets are dumped in piles or encased in pools of manure beneath the floor, having drowned there after falling through a hole. Dead hogs remain in their cages, discarded and stiff in walkways or rotting in pens as other pigs gnaw at their carcasses. Many of the 1,800 or so pigs that are alive are emaciated, crippled or covered with open sores, having been poked by jagged iron bars from broken cages or fallen through slats that separate them from the manure pits below. The nursery, heated to protect the piglets, is swarming with flies, and the ‘sterile room' where food and medicine are stored includes yet another pile of dead pigs stacked in front of a refrigerator and bags of pig feed." Martin says HKY appears to be "a Third World prison for pigs." Owner Garry Young blames irresponsible employees for the conditions, which he downplays. "Anything that was sick we gave shots and tried to do what we could that was right," he explains. Suing quit in February, and Young said he is closing the facility because it is no longer profitable. He owns another one, in addition to a feed store.
 
While intensive pig production proponents say HKY is exceptional, critics say it is hardly unique. An industry spokesperson argues that economics keep poorly run operations from surviving long. An impromptu tour of one facility in Illinois found "healthy-looking animals, clean pens and relatively mild odors." In November, HFA filed a petition with the South Dakota attorney general's office against the Sun Prairie Rosebud operation, a 4-year-old, 96,000-pig facility. There, broken manure and ventilation systems cause respiratory problems for workers, and sick and dying pigs are brutalized and cannibalized, charges HFA. The petition, which documents conditions with numerous graphic photos, can be viewed at: http://www.hfa.org  Sun Prairie's CEO denies the allegations, which the state is investigating. The Tribune published photos of pigs at HKY, featuring one on the front page which can also be viewed on-line (click on it for an expanded view).
 
SCOTPIGS, one of Scotland's largest pig breeding companies, is in provisional liquidation. In December, the company was booted from Quality Meat Scotland, a code of standards endorsed by the Scottish SPCA. The action followed repeat investigations by Advocates for Animals, which filmed and publicized desperate conditions for pigs at various Scotpigs operations (see item #6: http://tinyurl.com/yqluj ). Scotpigs directors are said to have been feuding and the company in debt.
 
RALPH HAHNHEUSER, the activist who welded gestation stalls shut at an Australian pig breeding operation in January 2003 (see item #3: http://tinyurl.com/2ts42 ), was fined $140 on March 30th after pleading guilty to trespassing and property destruction charges. His lawyer explained that he had done it to show that the stalls were smaller than the national code required, and to show the "cruel" conditions in which the pigs were kept. The magistrate noted the activist had taken steps to prevent disease transmission among the pigs. Upon fining him he said, "I do have a duty to encourage him to make sure his protests fall within the law." Hahnheuser is expected back in court later this year for contaminating feed in order to keep sheep from being exported (see item #3: http://tinyurl.com/3yuo6 ).
 
"At Some Farms, It's 'Hog Hell,'" The Chicago Tribune, Andrew Martin, March 24, 2004
http://tinyurl.com/2oj4d or
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0403240261mar24,1,264126.story?coll=chi-business-hed
"Pig Breeders Put into Liquidation," BBC News, March 31, 2004.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/3586741.stm
"Activist Fined for Piggery Protest," The Advertiser, Michael Owen-Brown, March 31, 2004.
http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,9134357%255E2682,00.html
 
 
2.  TRANSPORT & SLAUGHTER CRUELTIES DOCUMENTED
CANADA: A pig limping from a transport truck, cattle crammed together for a 67-hour cross-country journey, a cow struggling to right herself as she is hoisted into the air by a chained hind leg, a still live bison strung up by a hind leg, cattle shot in the head 2-4 times. These are among the images recorded by Animals Angels's activist Lesley Moffat as she followed trucks carrying pigs and cattle to slaughterplants in Canada, Oregon and California. (Three brief clips can be viewed on the Toronto Star web site.) "You see these injured, sick animals in trucks and slaughterhouses all over Canada," stated Moffat. The video documents the inadequacy of legal protection for farmed animals, notes the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA).
 
Copies have been supplied to Canada's Minister of Agriculture, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the Alberta Farm Animal Care Association. The Coalition is calling for a ban on the transport of nonambulatory animals, and limits on the amount of time farmed animals can be transported without water and food. It will also push the government to initiate mandatory animal-handling training for slaughterplant workers. [CCFA has also filed a complaint with CFIA seeking prosecution in the case of an improperly stunned cow and a cow who was electrically prodded.] The footage was to be shown at an Ontario meat inspection review which was called for by legislators after last summer's revelation that dead animals were allegedly being processed for human consumption (see 4d of http://tinyurlcom/2vnlh ). [The judge disallowed the video since none of the slaughter footage was from the province.] 
 
At the meat inspection review, Michael Draper, of the Ontario SPCA, related concerns about animal welfare in licensed slaughterplants, illegal ones, and during transport. He said there are hundreds of illegal slaughter operations in Ontario. "There is no regard for animal welfare in these operations," said Draper, "with dull knives, axes and even screwdrivers being used to kill animals in very unsanitary conditions. It's an organized commercial crime meeting a demand for cheap meat." He said there are problems with licensed operations, too (for example, see 4E of: http://tinyurl.com/2vnlh ). Draper also noted that 50 serious transport violations occurred between January 2000 and July 2003, with no action taken other than "ineffectual" warning letters: http://tinyurl.com/2kpd5
 
"Vivid Picture of Slaughterhouse Cruelty," The Toronto Star, Robert Cribb, March 23, 2004.
http://tinyurl.com/yps26 or
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1079997008948&call_pageid=968332188774&col=968350116467
"Underbelly of Canadian Livestock Transport Exposed in Shocking New Video," Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals press release, March 2, 2004.
 
IN THE U.K., on March 26th, Grampian Country Chickens pled guilty to causing the unnecessary suffering of 2,486 chickens. The birds died of heat stress last July while traveling 13 miles to slaughter on a truck carrying 5,500 chickens when the temperature reached 82 F. (28 C.). Four earlier journeys that day had resulted in some 1,370 chickens dying from heat. The company said ordinarily 3 or 4 birds would die while in transit. A council member said the death rate indicated a serious disregard for the birds' welfare and the law. Grampian said steps have been taken to prevent it from happening again, such as employing weather forecasts and altering catching patterns so birds are not caught in the summer during the hottest part of the day. The company was fined £4,000 ($7,374).
 
"Poultry Firm Fined for Chicken Cruelty," East Anglian Daily Times, Liz Hernshaw, March 27, 2004. http://tinyurl.com/2ojnq or
 
IN VIRGINIA, on March 29th, a truck carrying more than 100 pigs to a Smithfield slaughterplant overturned in Virginia, killing about 25 pigs, injuring others and the driver, and backing up traffic for 4 hours. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the accident threw most of the pigs into a field, where many lay unable to move. Smithfield officials rejected an offer from PETA to help euthanize severely injured pigs. Per PETA, the state veterinarian refused to come out and help, and only after company officials spent more than 2 hours attempting to capture other pigs did they begin euthanizing the injured ones. A captive bolt gun reportedly malfunctioned, resulting in at least one pig having to be repeatedly shot. The driver was charged with reckless driving. No cruelty charges were filed against the driver or company. Photos are available on the site below and along with a more detailed account at: http://www.peta.org/feat/smithfieldaccident
 
"25 Pigs Killed When Truck Overturns," The Virginian-Pilot, Linda Mcnatt, March 30, 2004. http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story.cfm?story=68164&ran=50066
 
IN NORTH CAROLINA, a truck carrying a load of pigs to a Smithfield slaughterplant overturned on March 2nd when the driver attempted to bypass a detour. Maneuvering around two sets of barricades and ignoring several warning signs, the driver took a turn and ended up in a ditch before the truck turned over, spilling the pigs out and injuring several. Traffic was blocked for hours while pigs were rounded up with electric prods and portable fencing. Another truck took the pigs to slaughter, and the driver was charged with driving around a barricade.
 
"Hog Truck Overturns in Bladenboro," Bladen Journal, Jefferson Weaver, March 2, 2004.
http://www.bladenjournal.com/articles/2004/03/02/news/news01.txt
 
IN NEW ZEALAND, a cow leapt to her death from the top of a two-tier United Carriers truck traveling at about 100 km(60 miles)/hr on State Highway One last Sunday. George Beasley, traveling in a car behind the truck, said the cow hit the road head-first and rolled off to the side. The flying cow could easily have caused a human fatality, he said. "It definitely didn't die straight away – it was still kicking and doing its death throes. It was going to die anyway but it should have been put out of its misery," Beasley stated. The cow was still at the side of the road 5 hours later.
 
"Cow Jumps to Death from Moving Stock Truck," Northern Advocate (Whangarei), March 30, 2004. http://tinyurl.com/2orsg
 
  
3. EUROPEAN RULES: TRANSPORT, EXPORT & SLAUGHTER
Each year, around 3 million farmed animals are transported across Europe on trips lasting up to 90 hours. On March 30th, the European Parliament (E.P.) voted 251:194 (with 44 abstentions) to limit transport time to 9 hours for animals traveling to slaughter. Animals sent for fattening, however, were not included. Animal protection advocates and U.K. green party politicians had lobbied for their inclusion in order to end live animal exports. The final decision will be made this month by the Council of Ministers. It is expected to be a struggle, with Mediterranean countries favoring longer trip duration limits due to them having fewer slaughterplants. The ability of the ten new member states to meet the standards when they join the European Union on May 1st is also a concern. The E.P. also voted for individual countries to be able, on moral grounds, to ban the export of live horses for human consumption. The U.K.'s Rural Affairs Minister said he has been besieged with calls for such a ban and is considering it: http://tinyurl.com/224ts
 
On April 1st, the U.K. government rejected a recommendation that animals be stunned prior to slaughter, made by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, an independent government advisory body. Orthodox Jewish and Muslim beliefs call for animals not to be injured when presented for slaughter (see item #2: http://tinyurl.com/ysflx ). The government ministers said that, while they found some merit in stunning animals immediately after a fatal cut has been made, banning slaughter without initial stunning would tend to export the problem to other countries that would continue it, resulting in no overall improvement in animal welfare: http://tinyurl.com/2577c
 
"Animal Welfare Improved," EUpolitix, March 30, 2004.
http://tinyurl.com/3f834 or
http://www.eupolitix.com/EN/LegislationNews/200403/93dba242-b408-45fc-9fb8-a4a7f612026f.htm
"MEPS Vote to End Cruel & Unnecessary Animal Trade," Compassion in World Farming News Release, March 30, 2004.
http://www.ciwf.co.uk/PRs/2004/NR1304.htm
See also: "Euro-MPS Reject Live Export Ban," Green Party press release, March 30, 2004.
http://www.greenparty.org.uk/index.php?nav=news&n=1306
 

4.  AUSTRALIA TO REGULATE LIVE ANIMAL TRADE AGAIN; REVEALING FOOTAGE
An inquiry following the Cormo Express fiasco (see #1 of: http://tinyurl.com/3anm6 ) found that self-regulation of industry over the past 5 years hasn't worked. In response, the government plans to resume the issuing of export licences and conduct surprise inspections and audits. Exporters with serious or serial breaches of animal welfare are to have their license revoked, The government will also devote $4 million toward improving conditions in Middle East slaughterplants over the next 4 years. Exports to Saudia Arabia, the largest importer of Australian sheep, will remain suspended until a new agreement can be reached. However, a proposal to ban exports of live animals to the Middle East during 6 months of hot weather was not adopted. Instead, a computerized system designed to predict heat stress and reduce mortality rates was promised. "Appalling"southern Australian ports are also to be made more hospitable to animals.
 
Political opponents and animal protection advocates want the export market changed to one of frozen meat instead of live animals. Evidence countering industry's claim that importing countries require live animals is said to be documented in undercover footage showing abusive treatment of sheep arriving in Kuwait (see: http://www.animalsaustralia.org ). Recently released by Animals Australia (AA) and Compassion in World Farming, the video aired on Australia's Sixty Minutes program on March 28th (transcript at: http://tinyurl.com/34e93 ). Host Richard Carelton commented, "The sheep being dragged across the concrete by its back leg, frankly, I don't think that would hurt the sheep very much at all." Temple Grandin ( http://www.grandin.com ) considered shoving live sheep into car trunks and binding sheeps' legs with wire to be unacceptable treatment. She found the treatment of exported deer particularly disturbing. (Australia exported nearly 2,000 deer last year, mostly to Kuwait.) The practice of mulesing, whereby "[s]trips of skin of the sheep's back end are sheered off and the raw flesh exposed" for fly control (photos at: http://tinyurl.com/36qwu ) was deemed unacceptable by AA investigator Lyn White. The procedure is done to two-thirds of Australian sheep.
             
"Australia Govt Takes Control of Live Animal Exports, Reuters, March 30, 2004.
"Livestock Trade Faces Tough New Code," The Age, Josh Gordon & Melissa Marino, March 31, 2004.
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/03/30/1080544487744.html
"Farmers Back Live Export Overhaul," News Interactive, March 31, 2004
http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,9140477%255E1702,00.html