Undercover Investigations

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Conklin Dairy Farms

Christensen FarmsMinnesota, 2012

An undercover MFA investigation provides a shocking look into a Walmart pork supplier—Christensen Farms—where pregnant pigs and their piglets are forced to suffer lives of extreme confinement and misery. Thousands of pigs are confined to filthy, metal gestation crates so small they are unable to even turn around for nearly their entire lives. Workers slam conscious piglets headfirst into the ground, rip out their testicles and cut off their tails without painkillers.

Following the investigation, Costco, the third-largest grocery chain in America, and Kmart, the third-largest discount store in the world, announced they would begin requiring their pork suppliers to phase out cruel gestation crates. Unfortunately, Walmart is supporting animal abuse by selling pork from Christensen Farms and other producers that confine pigs to cages barely larger than their own bodies.

Watch the undercover footage.

Ontario Livestock SalesCalifornia, 2012An MFA investigator documented an ongoing pattern of cruelty, egregious violence, and severe neglect at Ontario Livestock Sales, one of the oldest and largest livestock auctions in southern California. Law enforcement charged the owner and seven employees with a total of twenty-one counts of animal cruelty after an MFA investigator exposed workers throwing, beating, stomping on, and kicking animals. “Downed” animals—those too sick or injured to walk—were sold, transported, and left to slowly suffer and die.Management at this auction facility witnessed downed animals and even participated in routine violence and cruelty to animals in clear violation of California law. The city of Ontario’s mayor and a senior councilmember declared the abuse “shocking” and called for the owner and employees to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.Watch the undercover footage.
Illegal Slaughter OperationCalifornia, 2011Hidden-camera footage obtained by Mercy For Animals led to the arrest of Roberto Celedon for three felony and 10 misdemeanor criminal charges related to his illegal slaughter operation in Los Angeles County, California.The shocking video evidence shows animals being violently pinned down, having their throats crudely sawed open, and slowly bleeding to death. This case graphically illustrates the cruel, inhumane and illegal abuses that farmed animals are all too often subjected to in California and across the nation.During a raid of the facility, Los Angeles County Animal Control officers seized dozens of sick, injured and emaciated animals. These animals are now being rehabilitated at The Gentle Barn, a sanctuary for farmed animals in California.Watch the undercover footage.
ButterballNorth Carolina, 2011An MFA investigator documented appalling abuse and neglect at a Butterball facility in Shannon, North Carolina. Butterball workers violently kicked and stomped on birds, dragged them by their wings and necks, slammed them into transport crates and left turkeys to suffer from serious untreated injuries and infections.MFA reached out to the local District Attorney’s office to uphold state anti-cruelty laws and to charge Butterball for its criminal violations. Using evidence from the case, the state issued a search warrant to raid Butterball. For two days authorities documented Butterball’s neglect, generating extensive media coverage from CNN, FOX, NBC, CBS, and news giants United Press International, The Associated Press, Reuters, and USA Today.Watch the undercover footage.
Sparboe FarmsIowa, Minnesota, and Colorado, 2011Whats really in a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin? An MFA undercover investigator exposed appalling cruelty at the fast-food giant’s major egg supplier. Hidden-camera footage shot at Sparboe Farms – the fifth-largest egg producer in the country and a significant egg supplier to McDonald’s, Target, Sam’s Club, Supervalu, and Hy-Vee – revealed hens crammed into filthy battery cages and dead hens left to rot alongside birds still laying eggs for human consumption. The investigator also documented workers burning off the beaks of chicks without painkillers, sadistically and maliciously torturing animals, and throwing live birds into plastic bags and leaving them to suffocate.The investigation received unparalleled international media attention – airing on ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and 20/20 – and prompted McDonald’s, Target, Sam’s Club, and Supervalu to immediately discontinue their relationships with Sparboe Farms. Following the investigation, MFA filed a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Sparboe for making false and misleading public claims regarding animal welfare practices.Watch the undercover footage.
Iowa SelectIowa, 2011Working undercover at Iowa’s largest pig factory farm – which confines thousands of mother pigs to barren metal crates barely larger than their own bodies and supplies pork products to major grocery chains, including Kroger, Safeway, HyVee and Costco – MFA’s investigator documented management training employees to use dull clippers to cut off the tails of piglets, to castrate them without painkillers and to throw piglets across the room – comparing it to a “roller coaster ride.” The investigation also revealed mother pigs – physically taxed from constant birthing – suffering from distended, inflamed, bleeding, and usually fatal uterine prolapses, and sick and injured pigs often left to languish and slowly die without proper veterinary care.Stirring massive mainstream media attention, the investigation also raised awareness among millions of people about how the majority of pigs are raised and killed for food in the United States.Watch the undercover footage.
E6 Cattle Co.Texas, 2011Undercover footage from this factory farm – which raises over 10,000 calves for use on dairy farms – documented workers bludgeoning calves with pickaxes and hammers, burning out their horns without painkillers, standing on their necks, pulling them by their ears, and leaving them to suffer without veterinary care.The investigation sparked national outrage, caused the live-cattle stock price to drop, fueled efforts to halt legislation to criminalize whistleblowers for videotaping animal cruelty and holding abusers accountable, and prompted countless consumers to consider the plight of calves born into the dairy industry for the first time.Watch the undercover footage.
Catfish CornerTexas, 2010Hidden camera footage secretly shot at a Texas fish slaughter facility revealed shocking cruelty, including workers cutting, slicing, skinning, suffocating and dismembering live and fully conscious catfish – an excruciatingly painful practice harshly condemned by veterinarians. It is now widely accepted that fish feel pain. In fact, fish process pain in much the same way as mammals. In the U.S. each year, approximately 8.4 billion fish are killed for food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 80% of farm-raised fish are catfish, with Texas as a leading producer.MFA contacted all 181 Texas House and Senate members to address the abuse by introducing new legislation to specifically prohibit “skinning and dismembering of all live, conscious animals” during the 2011 legislative session.Watch the undercover footage.
Buckeye Veal FarmOhio, 2010This undercover investigation exposed the inherent cruelty of crated veal production – whereby baby calves are chained by their necks in filthy stalls, where they can’t turn around, walk or engage in natural behaviors. The majority of veal sold in the U.S. comes from calves raised in this abusive manner, yet five states and all 27 countries in the European Union have outlawed the practice.Immediately following the investigative release, Costco Wholesale, the third largest grocery chain in America, adopted a policy against purchasing veal from producers that use the create-and-chain production method, and Bob Barker, Emmy Award-winning host of The Price is Right, urged consumers nationwide to boycott veal and dairy. The exposé prompted Ohio decision-makers to vote in favor of a veal crate phase-out in the state.Watch the undercover footage.
Conklin Dairy FarmsOhio, 2010Hidden camera video recorded at this Central Ohio dairy farm reveals sadistic and malicious cruelty to cows and newborn calves. The undercover footage exposes animals being beaten in the face with metal pipes, repeatedly stabbed with pitchforks, having their tails broken, and being kicked, thrown, and punched by employees.As a result of the investigation, a farm worker was arrested and convicted on six counts of cruelty-to-animals, numerous dairy suppliers ended their relationships with the facility, support was generated for a statewide animal protection initiative, and consumers nationwide learned about the dark side of dairy production.Watch the undercover footage.
Willet DairyNew York, 2009Calves having their tails cut off and horns burned out of their skulls without painkillers, workers hitting, kicking and shocking cows, sick and injured animals left to suffer without proper veterinary care, and cows forced to live in filthy and overcrowded sheds – these were the abuses uncovered during an MFA investigation at Willet Dairy in Locke, New York.The investigation garnered national media attention and led to a criminal conviction on grounds of cruelty to animals, and the introduction of a bill in New York State to prohibit the cruel and unnecessary tail docking of dairy cattle.Watch the undercover footage.
Country View Family FarmsPennsylvania, 2009MFA’s investigation at Country View Family Farms provided consumers with a jarring glimpse into the nightmarish world of pork production, documenting the standard practice of keeping thousands of pregnant pigs confined in two-feet wide metal stalls called “gestation crates” that are so small that they could only take one step forward or backward and could not turn around or lie down comfortably.The investigation also uncovered workers tattooing sows by repeatedly driving sharp metal spikes into their flesh, tossing piglets like footballs, and neglecting sows with untreated injuries.Watch the undercover footage.
Hy-Line HatcheryIowa, 2009Hatching over 300,000 chicks each day, Hy-Line is the largest hatchery of egg-laying breed chicks in the world. An MFA investigator documented the harsh, industrial nature of today’s hatchery environment – where day-old chicks are thrown, mutilated without painkillers, dropped, and neglected to die. This investigation, which sparked international outcry, revealed the standard industry practice of throwing unwanted male chicks into a grinding machine while still alive. These chicks are useless to the industry because they do not produce eggs or grow large or fast enough to be raised for meat.Watch the undercover footage.
Quality Egg of New EnglandMaine, 2009The largest egg farm in New England, this factory farm confines millions of brown egg-laying hens in tiny battery-cages – so restrictive that the birds can’t fully spread their wings or walk freely. MFA’s hidden camera footage exposed birds trapped in the wire of their cages and workers throwing live birds into trash bins and breaking their necks.The investigation prompted the Maine Department of Agriculture and state police to raid the farm on grounds of cruelty. Grocery chains nationwide dropped the farm as an egg supplier, following MFA’s exposé.As part of a landmark civil settlement, the mega-farm pleaded guilty to 10 counts of cruelty to animals, agreed to pay over $130,000 in fines and restitution, and handed over authority to the state of Maine to conduct unannounced inspections of the facility for the following five years.Watch the undercover footage.
Norco RanchCalifornia, 2008Just four weeks before California voters went to the polls to cast their ballots on Proposition 2 – a modest initiative requiring that egg-laying hens in the state be given enough room to walk, stand and stretch their limbs – MFA released startling footage from inside Norco Ranch, the state’s largest egg producer. The video showed birds packed in cages so tightly that they could hardly move, live birds neglected on dead piles, and hens injured and trapped by cage wire.Prop 2 passed with overwhelming support – making California the first state in the nation to ban battery-cages.Watch the undercover footage.
Gemperle EnterprisesCalifornia, 2008An egg supplier to major grocery chains across the western United States, Gemperle Enterprises is one of the nation’s largest egg producers. Covert footage recorded at the facility by an MFA investigator uncovered hens left to suffer from untreated injuries and infections and workers roughly cramming birds into cages, tearing birds out of cages by their fragile wings, kicking, stomping and throwing them, and hurling them into “kill carts.”Watch the undercover footage.
House of Raeford FarmsNorth Carolina, 2007Working in the “live-hang” area of this massive turkey slaughterhouse (where live birds are snapped into shackles on the slaughter line), MFA’s investigator secretly filmed workers throwing, punching, kicking and ripping the heads off of live birds.The investigation also revealed conscious and thrashing turkeys having their throats slit – spotlighting the disturbing reality that birds are exempt from the federal Humane Slaughter Act.Watch the undercover footage.
Ohio Fresh EggsOhio, 2004As Ohio’s largest egg factory farm, Ohio Fresh Eggs confines millions of hens in restrictive battery cages, where the birds live each day confined so tightly that they are unable to walk, spread their wings, or engage in other simple, natural behaviors. Undercover video from this facility reveals birds suffering from open wounds and infections, dead birds rotting in cages with hens still producing eggs for human consumption, live hens in trash bins, and other deplorable abuses that are commonplace in factory egg production.Watch the undercover footage.
Weaver Brothers Egg FarmOhio, 2002A major egg producer in Ohio, Weaver Brothers Egg Farm subjects millions of hens to a life of deprivation, confinement, and neglect. Video footage recorded at this United Egg Producers’ “Animal Care Certified” facility reveals hens coated in feces and packed in tiny cages, birds suffering untreated infections, corpses left to rot on cage floors, birds trapped in cage wire, and a live hen left to die in a trash bin.Watch the undercover footage.