Hundreds of pigs are packed side by side in rows of individual gestation crates, unable to turn around for their entire pregnancies.
Some of these expectant mothers lie on the hard, filthy floor, listlessly staring at the animals across from them. Others bite their cage bars to alleviate the boredom, frustration, and pain of extreme confinement.
After three and a half months, the sows are moved to other cages to bear and feed their piglets. In these cells, mothers are subjected to a different kind of torment, forced to watch helplessly as their babies are taken from them, painfully mutilated, and returned bloody and screaming.
Some piglets don’t come back. Those who are sick or injured are often picked up by their hind legs, swung into the air, and slammed headfirst against the concrete floor—right in front of their mothers.
An MFA undercover investigator witnessed these scenes at a Tosh Farms pig-breeding facility in southern Kentucky, a factory farm that supplies pigs to JBS, the largest meat producer in the world.
He recorded workers kicking and punching animals in the face; violently killing baby pigs; and tearing out piglets’ testicles, cutting off their sensitive tails, and grinding down their teeth without pain relief. In one clip, a worker beats a pig with a metal rod again and again.
In another, a sow is led down a corridor to her death, her prolapsed uterus hanging outside her body.
Released in July, the investigation drew widespread coverage from a range of news outlets, including The Associated Press, Politico, The Denver Post, The Sacramento Bee, Fox Nashville, Louisville’s Courier Journal, Newsweek, regional NPR stations, and the top business magazine in Brazil, where JBS is based.
JBS was quick to distance itself from some of the abuse caught on camera, suspending “shipments” from the facility pending internal review. Three employees were fired. But such damage control doesn’t come close to addressing the problem. Although JBS denounces the kicking, punching, and beating as deviations from company policy, it condones other abuses: the mutilations, deprivation, and intensive confinement—the systemic cruelty allowed behind the shield of “standard industry practice.”
While MFA is pursuing legal action for the malicious cruelty in the video, we demand more. Over 100,000 people have signed MFA’s petition urging JBS to end the barbaric practice of mutilating piglets without painkillers and to ban gestation crates in its supply chain worldwide.
And we’re not stopping there. On the day of the investigation’s release, MFA held press conferences in California to raise awareness of Proposition 12, a landmark ballot initiative to ban the production and sale in California of meat and eggs from animals kept in restrictive cages. The undercover footage of pigs barely able to move shows Californians the critical need to vote yes on Prop 12 this November. The measure will be the strongest anti-confinement law in the U.S., potentially affecting the lives of millions of farmed animals, not just in California but across the country.
Passing Prop 12 will be a huge victory in eliminating cages for farmed animals and an important milestone in ending factory farming altogether. Pushing JBS to ban gestation crates would be another.