Need another reason to buy your Christmas ham from a local, humane producer?
Earlier this week, Mercy for Animals Canada released 100 hours of grueling, graphic footage from a pig breeding facility at an Arborg, Manitoba farm. And after viewing it, it's likely you'll lose your appetite altogether.
Over the course of 10 weeks, an MFA Canada investigator filmed farm workers slamming piglets into metal poles and concrete floors, as well as cutting off tails and testicles of fully conscious pigs.
Pigs are seen suffering from large open wounds and sores. Some are unable to lie down comfortably or turn around in their small, maggot-filled gestation crates.
The animal-protection organization is asking four main grocery chains across Canada—Loblaws, Metro, Sobey's, and Walmart Canada—to request a change in the way pork suppliers are raising their pigs and to phase out the use of gestation crates.
Already, Puratone Corporation, which owns the Manitoba farm, has released a job description for a Relief Technician that will monitor the daily care of the pigs.
In a statement to the public, Puratone expressed shock regarding the footage: "We are disturbed by some of the images, shown in the video taken at one of our farming sites, which do not reflect our animal welfare policy and principles."
"This isn't a matter of a single factory farm failing to meet industry standards," says Kimberly Carroll, a volunteer board member of MFA Canada, to TakePart. "This is a matter of industry standards that allow for blatant animal abuse."
Although the Manitoba pig farm was chosen at random for the investigation, MFA informed TakePart that they are using other investigators in factory farm facilities across the country to expose more animal cruelty and provide evidence that there is a need to reform the current production system.
MFA Canada's Director of Operations, Stephane Perrais, told TakePart that with the filming technology that is available, factory farm facilities can no longer easily hide their farming practices. "Once you find the right equipment, it is not too difficult to set up," she said. "Our undercover investigator applied to many different jobs in various factory farms and took the first one he was offered. As a full-time employee, he then went to work every day with a miniature camera and wrote a daily log after each work day."
Twyla Francois, MFA Canada's Director of Investigations, states that the gestation crate practice is already banned in the United Kingdom, parts of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and nine U.S. states, and that Safeway, Costco, McDonald's and Tim Hortons have introduced policies to eliminate the practice from supply chains.
As for Puratone's future in the hog production business?
Maple Leaf is purchasing the corporation for $42 million and promises better treatment of the animals, with more sustainable environmental production processes. But until we can be sure that factory farms are treating animals humanely, it's always best to buy meat from producers you trust.
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