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Piglets twirled, pigs kicked by farm workers, activist video shows

A farm manager vows to take swift action after Humane Society cameras reveal pig abuse. KUSA's Nick McGurk reports.

Officials are investigating allegations of animal abuse at a Wyoming pig farm after undercover video showed workers kicking pigs and tossing and twirling piglets — incidents that even a co-owner of the farm said looked like major abuses that warranted firings.

The Wyoming Livestock Board is investigating Wyoming Premium Farms in Wheatland, Wyo., and Doug DeRouchey, a co-owner and manager of the farm, told NBC affiliate 9NEWS.com that an investigation was under way after the Humane Society of the United States released the video on Tuesday.

"There's probably possible major abuse," he said, "and that's a termination."

"We will not tolerate abuse," DeRouchey added. "It's just not tolerable. And we've had isolated incidents in the past — and we've terminated the people."


Steve Keigley, sheriff for Platte County, where the farm is located, told msnbc.com that an investigation is under way and being led by the livestock board. The Humane Society provided "quite a bit of documentation," he said, adding that any charges would probably amount to a "high misdemeanor" with a maximum of several months in county jail and a fine.

Humane Society of the United States

A Wyoming Premium Farms worker twirls a piglet in a screen grab from the video taken by a Humane Society activist.

A Colorado State University animal sciences professor who reviewed the video blamed management. "That was just poorly supervised employees," Temple Grandin told 9NEWS.com. "That's the kind of stuff that goes on with bad management. I've seen it over and over again."

The Humane Society said the video was shot over 27 days last month by someone who worked there and alleged the farm was a supplier to Tyson Foods.

The food conglomerate denied a direct connection, saying in a statement that:

"Tyson Foods does not buy any of the hogs raised on this farm for our pork processing plants.

"We do have a small, but separate hog buying business that buys aged sows; however, these animals are subsequently sold to other companies and are not used in Tyson's pork processing business.

"We've seen the video and we are appalled by the apparent mistreatment of the animals. We do not condone for any reason this kind of mistreatment of animals shown in the video."

In response, the Humane Society noted that Tyson did not deny purchasing pigs via a company it owns. The group also presented a farm statement that shows older sows were sold to that Tyson affiliate as recently as last month. 

"Despite Tyson's misleading claims, the connection between this investigation and Tyson Foods is crystal clear," Matt Prescott, food policy director for the group, told msnbc.com.

The video also shows hundreds of female pigs confined to "gestation crates" that prohibit them from turning around. Those are legal, but the Humane Society has lobbied food companies and supermarkets to stop buying pork from farms that use that system.

McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King have said they will stop buying from such farms, the Humane Society noted, and Safeway on Monday said it would do the same. Smithfield Foods and Hormel plan to phase out the crates within five years, the group added.

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