Undercover video targets gestation housing

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. – Two pork production facilities in Oklahoma, one owned by Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based Seaboard Foods and another by Clinton, NC-based Prestage Farms, are the latest pork operations to be targeted by undercover agents from the Humane Society of the United States. The breeding facilities in the videos are reportedly in Goodwell, Okla.

On Jan. 31 HSUS released video footage, reportedly taken in late 2011, depicting what it called “prolonged suffering of pigs used for breeding who are confined in cages so small the animals can’t even turn around.” HSUS claimed in a press release that unsanitary and cruel conditions inside the crates led to the injury of some animals depicted in the videos and the death of others. The investigation and footage was gathered over 30 days at the Seaboard facility and 14 days at the one owned by Prestage. Based on the footage, HSUS filed legal complaints with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the Federal Trade Commission, stating the use of gestation stalls contradicts Seaboard’s claims that its animal welfare programs are sound.

In a media statement issued Jan. 31, Seaboard Foods disputed the allegations of abuse and said the company follows industry protocols and practices for animal welfare. The housing it uses for gestating sows is based on sound science, it stated. The Seaboard release also quoted animal handling expert, Dr. Temple Grandin on the footage: “There was no bad behavior by people” in the operations depicted at the company’s facility. Seaboard “uses both stalls and group pens to house gestating sows,” it said, and that no one method for housing them has been determined superior, given proper management practices.
The companies are being encouraged by HSUS to adopt group housing practices and to begin phasing out the use of gestation crates, similar to the policy Smithfield foods has agreed to adopt.

Seaboard Foods operates a pork-processing facility in Guymon, Okla. According to its website, besides its pork operations in Oklahoma, Prestage also produces over 400 million lbs. of turkey each year in North Carolina and it processes the birds at a plant in St. Pauls, NC.

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