W5 report sparks investigations into Manitoba pig farm
Published Monday, December 10, 2012 6:32AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 10, 2012 9:59PM EST
Disturbing footage captured at a Manitoba pork farm has prompted the launch of several investigations looking into the treatment of animals at the facility, including an internal investigation by the company at the centre of the abuse allegations.
Following a CTV W5 report that aired undercover footage from inside the Puratone Corp. farm in Arborg, Man., the company said it was “disturbed” by the images, which shows pigs with open sores in tiny cages and piglets being euthanized by slamming them against concrete walls and floors.
A statement posted on the company’s website said an investigation had been launched and corrective actions will be taken.
Footage recorded by an undercover employee appears to show thousands of pregnant sows, some so large they are unable to walk, crammed into small metal gestation cages with no room to turn around.
The sows spend nearly four months in the cages. When they are ready, they are transferred to a slightly larger stall called a farrowing crate where they give birth. After three weeks, the piglets are then sent away for fattening and eventual slaughter while the sows are returned to the gestation crates and re-impregnated to start the cycle again.
Footage from farm has been sent to the province's chief veterinarian, whose office said it will be reviewing the video.
However, Manitoba’s Pork Council told CTV News on Monday that while there were issues with some of the footage, much of what was captured by the animal welfare group was standard practice -- including the “thumping” of piglets.
The group behind the footage, Mercy for Animals Canada, held news conferences in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal on Monday where they called on major grocery chains to stop carrying meat from producers who use gestation cages.
"The extreme cruelty documented at this factory farm would horrify most Canadians, but it is actually considered standard industry practice," said Kimberly Carroll, a spokesperson for Mercy for Animals Canada.
"Pigs are every bit as capable of experiencing pain and suffering as our beloved cats and dogs at home, and they deserve the same protection from abuse."
The man who secretly videotaped the operation worked at the barn as an animal care technician for nearly three months last summer and early fall. He continues to work on other animal welfare investigations. He agreed to speak about his experiences on the condition his identity is not disclosed.
“The conditions are horrible,” he told W5 in an interview. “Nothing could prepare me for what I saw. There are thousands of pregnant pigs in these crates nearly their entire lives.”
Maple Leaf Foods, one of Canada’s largest hog processors, entered into an agreement last month to acquire Puratone.
Following the W5 segment, Maple Leaf said in a statement that the treatment in the video is “disturbing” and not accepted industry practices.
The company said it plans to conduct an audit of Puratone’s animal welfare practices.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse of any kind.”
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