Former Hog Farm Employees Reveal Horrible Behind-the-Scenes Animal Abuses

Illinois’s reputation for hog farming keeps getting worse, with new allegations of animal abuse emerging just last week.

The Chicago Tribune interviewed three former employees of Professional Swine Management, who allege that livestock abuse occurred at the company’s Cedarcrest facility, about 7 miles southwest of Lewistown, where 6,400 sows are confined in small cages.

According to The Tribune,

“One of [the former employees], Rodney Beaird, said some workers beat the animals with the sharp edges and corners of the large plastic ‘sort boards’ that pig handlers use to guide animals. ‘Not flat-ways, they’d be doing it sideways,’ said Beaird, 55, lowering his arms in a chopping motion.

‘Some of these young kids, they got off on it. They got a thrill out of it,’ added Beaird, who said he worked at Cedarcrest for about three months in 2014.

Beaird reported two workers for beating pigs, but the two turned on him, accusing him of the abuse. He was subsequently fired.

“You’re labeled a troublemaker if you go turn people in,” he told The Chicago Tribune. “What was (done) in there stayed in there. They stressed that.”

Beaird’s son Anthony worked at the facility from 2011 to 2014 and also reported seeing workers beating pigs with boards and with leather straps if the animals seemed to be moving too slowly. 

“If people knew what happens behind closed doors, I guarantee they would look at bacon different,” he told the Tribune.

The third person interviewed was Justin Jockisch, a former Cedarcrest worker who also reported seeing pigs being hit with metal rods.

More Animal Abuse In Illinois

Similar allegations emerged last August, when Sharee Santorineos, who had taken a job as a breeding technician at a different Illinois hog farm named Eagle Farms, wrote to the Illinois Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare, “I seen pigs that are pregnant beat with steel bars. I seen them kicked all over their body.” 

But her report, like other worker allegations about the abuse in Illinois’s over 900 hog confinement facilities, went nowhere.

After Eagle Point executives gave a state bureau inspector a guided tour of the 6,000-pig operation, the inspector wrote a single-page report.

“I did not observe anyone mistreating the animals,” it said. “No violations found. Docket is closed.”

Why Does Illinois Regularly Discount Worker Complaints?

Illinois hog farms send 12 million pigs to market every year, and yet the state’s Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare has not found a single animal welfare violation over the past five years, according to The Chicago Tribune, which reviewed thousands of pages of records.

There seem to be two main reasons for this lack of enforcement of regulations for hog farms.

The first is the small number of inspectors.

The Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare is in charge of investigating claims of animal abuse, but their staff was recently cut from 12 to 6. With this scarcity of staff, the investigation of animal abuse claims often means an investigator not actually visiting the facility, but simply emailing or calling a supervisor.

In addition, Illinois laws for the protection of animals are weak.

As these large pig confinements have recently increased in number and size, Illinois has become the nation’s fourth-largest seller of pigs. But this has come about at a harsh cost for the animals, who are raised for slaughter in factory-like conditions, in order to lower the price of pork, the most widely consumed meat in the world.

The Chicago Tribune conducted an investigation of numerous Illinois counties last year, and found that the state also does little to investigate allegations of animal cruelty submitted by whistleblowing employees.

Similar to the Eagle Point example noted above, there were several cases of inspectors dismissing complaints after simply telephoning executives to ask if the complaints about the cruel treatment of pigs were accurate. It’s not hard to guess what the answers were.

The Tribune also found that the growth of the hog confinements has created a new environmental hazard: Over the past 10 years, the pig waste that flowed into waterways from leaks and spills has destroyed more than 490,000 fish in 67 miles of rivers.

Other states have taken action to address the problems caused by these large hog confinements. Illinois has not, the Tribune found.

Take Action!

What can be done?

Kelsey Bourgeois decided to start a Care2 petition, demanding that Illinois get serious about protecting the pigs being raised in the state.

Her petition has now garnered over 130,000 supporters. If you believe that the state of Illinois needs to do more to protect pigs, be sure to join the protest by signing up here. And thank you!



Marie W
Marie W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Simon L
Simon L2 years ago

Thank you

Chen B
Chen Boon Fook2 years ago

Thank you

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

F***** bastards! Criminals should be locked up for life: and the US call itself a civilized country??

Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C2 years ago


Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

Slaughterhouse workers and operators are worse than serial killers and ISIS combined. They MUST be rounded up for the good of society and thrown into the deepest holes or given the death sentence for their crimes. Those monsters would easily slaughter children or families at he drop of a hat.

Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Christine C
Chandra C2 years ago


Janet B
Janet B2 years ago