Family Farm a Misnomer

pigs in gestation cratesAn undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals has revealed horrific animal cruelty at a factory farm owned and operated in Pennsylvania by Country View Family Farms (CVFF). A misnomer for sure.

Despite the happy, friendly name, an employee working undercover for Mercy for Animals says pigs are suffering terrible abuse at the hands of this company.  Watch the video below but be warned it is very disturbing. Go here to send a letter to your representative and senators urging them to take action now to stop the cruelty! 

The employee obtained a job at this pig factory farm for 3 months during which time he wore a hidden camera.

Not only were animals physically tortured, they were left without medical care and suffered horrific deaths. Employees can be seen throwing pigs around, slamming them into walls or onto the ground, beating, kicking and shoving the animals; performing painful procedures with no anesthesia or veterinary supervision, confining the pigs in gestation crates so that they can barely move, and leaving them with painful untreated wounds and other conditions. Reports of suffering and cruelty by the undercover employee were said to be ignored.

 The video also reveals abject cruelty in the slaughtering or killing of these animals. Baby pigs are literally thrown into CO2 gas chambers which don’t work properly, leaving the animals suffering and alive after administration of the gas. The owners were reportedly well aware the gas chamber did not work properly but did nothing to fix it.  

The video shows employees using captive bolt guns to try to stun pigs. The employees are inept and stab at the pigs’ heads repeatedly. The animals are clearly suffering from massive head trauma and left to die painful, torturous deaths.  

There are no federal laws to protect pigs or other animals used for food from cruelty or neglect until the slaughtering process. Then, though the law was apparently ignored here, the 1958 Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, 7 USCS § 1901-1906 provides: No method of slaughtering or handling in connection with slaughtering shall be deemed to comply with the public policy of the United States unless it is humane. …(a) [I]n the case of cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, and other livestock, all animals are rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut"…

Moreover, in 1978 Congress amended the Federal Meat Inspection Act, 21 USCS §§601, 603, to require humane methods of slaughter in accordance with the 1958 law.

There is no state law to protect these animals at any time, before or during slaughter. The Pennsylvania animal cruelty law does not apply to any "activity undertaken in normal agricultural operation." 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511(c)(3) "Normal agricultural operation" is defined to mean the "[n]ormal activities, practices and procedures that farmers adopt, use or engage in year after year in the production and preparation for market of poultry, livestock" 18 Pa.C.S. §1511(q) Basically anything a "farmer" including agri-business does to these pigs is legal in Pennsylvania.

CVFF claims it has fired the barn manager.  Surely that is not even remotely enough. Communications manager Eric Haman told a local news station, "We are more strict on ourselves than any government regulation could be." He thought some of the acts of cruelty depicted on the video were "taken out of context".

The company’s veterinarian, Dr. Jessica Clark, who was nowhere to be seen on the video during these horrific acts of cruelty and while pigs languished in intense pain for days, promises to do better. She worried about employees losing their jobs. You would think to a veterinarian at least, animals lives would matter.  

pigsCountry View Family Farms is a division of Hatfield Quality Meats, which operates more than 100 pig farms in the U.S.


Call on USDA and Food Safety Inspection Service officials to enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
Secretary Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture 
1400 Independence Ave., S.W. 
Washington, DC 20250
Phone: 202-720-3631
Alfred V. Almanza, Administrator
Food Safety and Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, DC 20250-3700
Phone: (202) 720-7025
Fax: (202) 205-0158

Call on Congress, U.S. representatives found here and senators here, to stop this atrocity and provide for humane treatment of farm animals.

Call on Pennsylvania lawmakers, representatives and senators, to apply animal cruelty laws to farm animals and adopt a simple law that 7 states have already enacted that would ban gestation crates and allow pigs and other farm animals enough room to stretch their limbs (or wings), stand, turn around without touching a cage, and lie down with all their limbs fully extended. 

Michigan recently passed a law to eliminate the worst of the factory farming practices, battery cages for egg laying hens, gestation crates for pregnant sows and tie stalls for veal calves. This past year, Maine joined Colorado and Arizona in banning these cruel practices for pregnant sows and veal calves.  California with its successful Prop 2 will ban cruel confinement for egg laying hens as well. Oregon and Florida ban cruel confinement of pregnant sows. A Prop 2 like measure remains pending in New York’s Assembly.

Why Gestation Crates for Pregnant Pigs Should be Banned

On sow farms pigs are confined in 2 foot wide x 7 foot long gestation crates for nearly all of their 4 month pregnancy. Pigs can weigh 600 pounds or more at the height of their pregnancy. These cages are so small the pregnant pigs can barely move at all. Certainly the pigs cannot even stretch their limbs or turn around let alone walk. The pigs cannot root, forage, graze or wallow. They cannot build nests. They can enjoy none of their natural social behavior and interactions.

Just before the pigs give birth, they are moved to farrowing crates which are small metal stalls. Once the pigs give birth and the young are separated from them, they are impregnated and returned to the gestation crates.

pigThis is how they live.

Pigs are very intelligent beings. They suffer intense boredom, frustration, anger and even neuroses from such cruel confinement. Pigs cruelly confined this way engage in behaviors like bar-biting, headweaving, pressing their drinkers without drinking, and making chewing motions with an empty mouth, called sham or vacuum chewing. These pigs can demonstrate aggressive behavior as well. They also can develop apathy or nonresponsiveness. In other words, they give up.

The pigs also suffer health problems from the intense confinement and lack of exercise. They lose bone strength and develop osteoporosis. Their muscles become weak and atrophied. They suffer joint disorders and lameness. The pigs are in constant pain from pushing against the metal enclosure and lying on metal all the time. They suffer sores and injuries from the metal crates. Many pigs develop cardiovascular problems and urinary tract infections.

Studies show there is no economic reason not to use alternative housing methods that are actually less costly and can increase sow production.  In a 2003 Iowa poll 77% percent of consumers said they would buy pork products only from food companies whose suppliers raise and process their hogs only under humane and environmentally sound conditions.