OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Humane Society of the United States alleged Tuesday that pork producers Seaboard Foods and Prestage Farms Inc. are mistreating pregnant pigs by keeping them in so-called "gestation cages."
Paul Shapiro, the Humane Society's senior director of farm animal protection, said at an Oklahoma City news conference that investigators worked for both companies and videotaped the conditions in late 2011 at production facilities in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
The video, posted on the organization's website, shows the pigs standing or lying in cages, in addition to workers apparently cutting the tails off piglets.
"These social, intelligent animals spend their four-month pregnancies lined up in cages like parked cars. All facing one direction, never turning around, never walking," Shapiro said.
Shapiro said the Humane Society notified both companies of its findings Tuesday and wants them to use more spacious quarters, known as group housing.
Ron Prestage, a veterinarian for the North Carolina-based company founded by his father, issued a statement.
"Prestage Farms has production systems for both group housing and individual housing," Prestage said. "Whether raised in groups or individual housing, we are committed to sound animal care."
Seaboard officials said they "strongly dispute" any allegations of abuse and are pleased that employees are following proper industry-supported protocols and procedures.
"In direct response to the recently released video by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Dr. Temple Grandin, who also is quoted in the video, stated that 'there was no bad behavior by people' in the operations depicted at Seaboard Foods," the Kansas-based company said in a statement.
Prestage said his company has started an investigation into the Humane Society's concerns to determine whether any employee has violated company policy.
"We will take disciplinary action as appropriate, including termination of employment, as is provided in our animal welfare policy. This has been done before when a violation of our policies has been identified," he said.