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900 Dead Piglets Fed to Their Mothers at Horrific Kentucky Farm

900 Dead Piglets Fed to Their Mothers at Horrific Kentucky Farm

An undercover investigation at Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Owensboro, Ky., recently exposed not only the horrific conditions pigs endure at factory farms, and the gruesome practices they claim will keep pigs healthy.

Secret film footage (view the footage below) taken earlier this year by an investigator working for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reveals that after 900 piglets died from diarrheal disease in a 2 day period, their intestines were ground up into “a smoothie” and fed to their mothers and other sows. Kentucky state law prohibits the feeding of dead pigs to pigs, and for good reason.

According to the HSUS:

Studies of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus in Europe have consistently found higher risk of infection in large industrial factory farming operations, compared to smaller farms that raise their pigs outdoors. The diarrheal disease is coursing through U.S. pigs, especially at factory farms, while smaller family farms with higher animal welfare standards typically don’t engage in these practices. Since the outbreak started in the U.S. in April 2013, several million pigs have died from the virus.

The fact that the farm shares its name with a medieval torture device for women seems all too appropriate according to the investigator who broke the story. At Iron Maiden, sows are kept in cramped cages known as gestation crates. As Care2′s s.e. smith reported earlier this year, these small, narrow stalls “are so small the animals cannot turn around and many can’t lie down, either, forced to stand on a slatted concrete floor (for easier waste management) until they’re ready to deliver their piglets, at which point they move to farrowing crates.”

In addition to these inhumane conditions, the sows were then forced to consume remains from diseased piglets, just one of several disturbing practices HSUS officials say are fairly widespread within the industrial sector of the pig industry.

“The entire atmosphere at this facility is awful for animals, many of whom are perpetually immobilized and suffering from body sores, diarrhea attacks and prolapsed uteruses,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at HSUS, in a press release.

The Humane Society said it believes the practice is prohibited by state and federal law banning feeding animals “unprocessed waste” including meat products. The industry, with the support of some animal care experts, says it’s a scientific and veterinarian-approved way of humanely dealing with PEDV. Without it, claims The Center for Food Integrity’s Animal Care Review Panel, even more pigs would die.

“There’s no question that people may be put off by this treatment, but PEDV is wreaking havoc out there on the farms and ‘feedback’ is the only control method we have found to be effective,” said Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

Maybe not creating the inhumane and unnatural conditions that bred the disease would be a better place to start? I’s hard to see how feeding living animals the diseased flesh from dead animals could be allowed by the FDA and USDA. Then again, both agencies find it totally acceptable to feed chicken poop to cows.

Although we can’t count on the government to address these practices through regulation reform, pressure from consumers continues to be successful in creating change at the other end of the supply chain.

More than 60 major food companies—McDonald’s, Safeway, Costco, Target and dozens more—have mandated that their pork providers eliminate the crates from within their supply chains. Additionally, major pork producers including Smithfield, Tyson and Cargill are moving away from gestation crates.

TAKE ACTION

Please sign and share the petition to urge the USDA to ban Iron Maiden and all farms from feeding dead piglets to their own mothers.

Warning: the following video contains graphic footage

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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284 comments

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10:42AM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

You dirty filthy scum individuals running this hell farm!!! Pigs have better hygiene than you cruel prats! They are clean, intelligent creatures which is more than i can say for YOU! You are bad for the pigs & bad for the consumer! You have no scruples, no conscience & you should be SACKED & PROSECUTED & CLOSED DOWN!

10:27AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

signed and sharing again..... Sick bastards!!! I hate factory farms, at least if you choose to eat meat, eat organic and from places that are cerified that treat animals right! All of the suffering that these animals endure is because of the consumerism and taste for cheap meat!!!

1:15PM PST on Mar 4, 2014

Just another reason why we should stop eating meat!

11:40AM PST on Mar 4, 2014

What a cruel world we live in!

4:26PM PST on Mar 2, 2014

After reading some more about this case from credible sources vets, scientists, etc. I must adjust one of my previous comments and help clear up this issue. First HSUS wants you to believe that the farm was feeding intestines of the piglets back to the sows. This is incorrect to correct this statement, a minute sample of feces from the intestines of the piglets was swabbed into the mouth of the sow. Thus hoping to build antibodies and pass them along. Good news also follows this past week a new strand of the PEDv has been been decoded and a vaccination should be synthesized and ready for mass production in the next couple of months. Thus we hopefully have found the strand that is causing the problems and we can eradicate the PEDv from the American swine herd.

10:44AM PST on Mar 1, 2014

Absolutely horrible. When is animal cruelty going to stop?

9:27AM PST on Feb 28, 2014

End of comment:
The issues revealed in this appalling story are relevant to farm animal welfare, human food safety, human health generally and last but definitely not least the question of why American authorities allow this practise, and those touched on the article, to go unchallenged. As I said in an earlier post, if it's not illegal, it should be and if it is illegal, it must be prosecuted.

9:26AM PST on Feb 28, 2014

Rest of comment:
Also, as animals are packed together so tightly in factory farms, disease often spreads like wildfire. By using antibiotics as a preventative (sub therapeutic) measure, then this is controlled to some extent. However, there is a problem with sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics. Have you ever had antibiotics from your doctor? Did they tell you to finish the whole course, even if you feel better before the end of it? The reason for this is that if you don’t finish the whole course then not all of the disease bacteria will be killed. Some will be left behind and may develop an immunity to the antibiotic. So, next time the same antibiotic is used, it may not be as effective. This is relevant sub-therapeutic antibiotic use is at a low level meaning that bacteria can often build up a resistance to it. This has implications for disease treatment of not only farmed animals, but humans too. As people eat meat with these low antibiotic levels, if we become sick, antibiotics may not necessarily work for us. This public health issue has been brought up repeatedly by various organisations including the Union of Concerned Scientists and the ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ group of scientists.

The issues revealed in this appalling story are relevant to farm animal welfare, human food safety, human health generally and last but definitely not least the question of why American authorities allow this practise, and those touched on the article, to go unchallenge

9:25AM PST on Feb 28, 2014

'if this is an effort to "vaccinate" the adults against the virus, it's a feeble, rather ridiculous one. This HAS to be a factory farm thing -- I'd expect a REAL farmer to have more sense.' Marianne C.

You are right, Marianne C, this is a 'factory farming thing.' Real farmers do have more sense. This definitely NOT a vaccination effort - this is a cost saving measure. Pigs do eat other pigs and it's not necessarily unnatural. However, these were diseased piglets. This happened because they had no commercial value other than to use their dead bodies to reduce the food bill for the adults. As they were diseased, though, the meat from the adults that have eaten them has no place in the human food chain.

As you have mentioned vaccination, Marianne, I think it pertinent to also post here that nearly all factory farmed pigs are routinely fed antibiotics whether they are diseased or not. The purpose of this antibiotic use is to make the pigs put weight on faster and prevent disease. No one knows why antibiotics make animals grow faster, but they do, so factory farms use it to cut their food bill. If the animal's life is shorter and it gets to market quicker at a high price due to its weight, then it reduces the food bill for that animal. Also, as animals are packed together so tightly in factory farms, disease often spreads like wildfire. By using antibiotics as a preventative (sub therapeutic) measure, then this is controlled to some extent. However, there is a problem with

7:34PM PST on Feb 27, 2014

Just disgusting.

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