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Activists Uncover Animal Abuse At Kentucky Hog Farm

Mercy for Animals
Between December 1, 2017, and March 16, 2018, Mercy for Animals conducted an investigation of a Tosh Farms hog farm in Simpson, Co., KY.

Update:Tosh Farms responds to alleged abuse. 

Pigs raised for slaughter in Louisville’s JBS Swift plant were punched, kicked and beaten with a pipe at a farm south of Bowling Green, according to a new undercover video released by animal rights activists.

  An undercover investigator from the non-profit Mercy For Animalsdocumented the abuses while working for four months at a Tosh hog farm in Franklin, Kentucky, earlier this year.

In hidden camera footage shared with WFPL, employees are shown:

  • Kicking and repeatedly punching pigs in the head.
  • Striking pigs with what appears to be a metal pipe.
  • Violently and repeatedly smashing a piglet’s head against the floor.
  • Ripping out the teeth and testicles of piglets — without any apparent pain relief.

The footage also depicts mother pigs confined in metal cages, known as gestation crates, that are so small they can’t turn around. Some of the pigs in the video also appear to have untreated wounds.
Watch the footage at this link. WARNING: Graphic content. 

“While our investigator was working at this farm, they reported the abuse to management numerous times,” said Kenny Torrella, Mercy For Animals spokesman.

Torrella said that Mercy For Animals decided to release the footage after it was clear management didn’t intend to address the abuse.

Mercy for Animals is also petitioning the sheriff of Simpson County, where the farm is located, to enforce Kentucky’s animal cruelty laws.

The petition includes additional details about what the investigator, who Mercy For Animals has not named, witnessed while working at the farm.

In one instance, a pig was hit more than 22 times with a pipe, according to the petition. In another, an employee stood on top of a live piglet’s head and body, and bashed it’s head on the ground multiple times.

“We’re hoping that no only will the [district attorney’s office] of Simpson County take action to hold these animal abusers accountable, but we can also ensure that this doesn’t happen again at another JBS facility,” Torrella said.

The farm is owned by Tosh Farms.CEO Jimmy Tosh also owns Tosh Pork, and Bacon By Gosh, in Henry County, Tennessee, and has 84 contracted barns in the region where farmers grow pigs for his products.

Tosh Pork released a statement Monday saying the company has not yet seen the video, but takes seriously the ethical responsibility to properly care for its pigs.

“As a pork producer, we are committed to producing safe, wholesome pork in a socially responsible way,” Tosh Pork said in the statement.

Pigs from Tosh’s farms are marketed to JBS Swift in Louisville Kentucky.

A JBS spokeswoman said in a statement that it is investigating the allegations of animal abuse at its supplier and has suspended shipments in the meantime.

“We expect all livestock to be handled in a safe and humane manner throughout our supply chain,” said Misty Barnes in a statement. “Animal welfare is a priority for our company and our customers. We will ensure that all of our suppliers adhere to our high standards for animal care.”

A spokesman from the National Pork Producers Council said it’s common practice to begin a third-party audit when concerns about animal welfare are raised.

This post has been updated. 

Nicole Erwin is a Murray native and started working at WKMS during her time at Murray State University as a Psychology undergraduate student. Nicole left her job as a PTL dispatcher to join the newsroom after she was hired by former News Director Bryan Bartlett. Since, Nicole has completed a Masters in Sustainable Development from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where she lived for 2 1/2 years.
Ryan Van Velzer has told stories of people surviving floods in Thailand, record-breaking heat in Arizona and Hurricane Irma in South Florida. He has worked for The Arizona Republic, The Associated Press and The South Florida Sun Sentinel in addition to working as a travel reporter in Central America and Southeast Asia. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Ryan is happy to finally live in a city that has four seasons.
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