Environment

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 new undercover video released by animal rights activists.

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

JBS Swift has already suspended shipments from the supplier pending an investigation.

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 suffer from untreated wounds and illnesses. In one scene, the investigator says the footage depicts a mother pig’s uterus hanging outside her body.

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 also filed a criminal complaint with the district attorney’s office in Simpson County, where the farm is located, to enforce Kentucky’s animal cruelty laws, Torrella said.

The complaint includes additional details about what the investigator, who is only referred to as “Tyler”, 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 not 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. 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.