In May the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover video of mistreatment of pigs, shot at Wyoming Premium Farms, which supplies Tyson Foods in some fashion. (Tyson denies that Wyoming Premium supplies it’s pork processing business, but suggests that the farm supplies aged sows that are then sold to other distributors). Now the nonprofit, Mercy for Animals, has released another video of pig mistreatment, taken in early 2012 by an employee of Christensen Farms in Hanska, Minn. Christensen is a pork supplier for Wal-Mart and until recently, Costco and Kmart.
In addition to images of bloodied pigs whose injuries appear to go ignored by employees, the video features employees repeatedly slamming piglets against concrete floors, and clipping piglets’ tails (a quick procedure) and yanking out their testicles (a more prolonged procedure) while they are awake and squealing. Christensen also uses gestation crates, a practice that has been condemned by the Humane Society, is illegal in the European Union and nine states, and is shunned by a number of major pork distributors, including Kroger, Safeway, Whole Foods, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King. In the past 48 hours, both Costco and Kmart have sent letters to their suppliers giving them a 10-year grace period to phase out these gestation crates. (Correct. Ten years.)
These crates, which are only slightly longer than a sow, do not allow room for turning and lying down. A female pig may spend most of her life in these crates. In the video, a sow is shown chewing the bar of her crate and another sow is shown repeatedly banging her head against the bars.
Christensen responds to the video here.
Mercy for Animals is in discussions with Walmart, which they say is currently refusing to drop Christensen Farms or other suppliers who use gestation crates. The Arkansas Times is seeking comment from Walmart. It has told others that it sells gestation crate-free Harvestland brand pork products in a number of its stores and will try to increase that number. But this article didn't mention whether Walmart had responded to other complaints about the supplier.
UPDATE: Further from Walmart in prepared statement:
We will not tolerate animal mistreatment by our suppliers. As soon as we were made aware of the video, we immediately reached out to our suppliers who source from this farm. If we determine that there was mistreatment, we will take action.
All states have animal cruelty laws, but often these laws don’t apply to livestock. Nor does the federal Animal Welfare Act apply to livestock. Federal laws do regulate transport and slaughter.