Animal activist group secretly tapes euthanization of pigs, alleges they were ‘roasted alive’

Iowa’s agriculture secretary says the animal activist group is ‘kicking farmers when they’re down.” Des Moines Register

A national swine veterinarians group says shutting down a confinement’s ventilation is an acceptable form of euthanasia in “constrained circumstances” such as the COVID-19 meatpacking disruption.


A California animal rights group says an Iowa pork producer “roasted pigs alive” when it euthanized thousands of hogs it was unable to send to Midwest meatpacking plants that had slowed or halted production as workers fell ill with COVID-19.

Direct Action Everywhere describes the pigs as “shrieking in agony” after Iowa Select Farms, a large pork producer, shut down the ventilation in a rural confinement facility near Aplington in Grundy County to euthanize them.

Jeff Hansen, the company’s CEO, said it “exhausted every possible option,” from finding more barn space to donating pork to food banks and employees, before deciding to euthanize the animals.

Employees are in “tremendous pain knowing that this awful decision had to be made,” Hansen said.

Direct Action Everywhere said it worked with Iowa Select whistleblowers to secretly film company employees destroying the animals.

► PreviouslyIowa livestock producers may have to euthanize pigs as packing plants struggle

The company confirmed the video was taken at the Grundy Center facility where Iowa Select pigs were taken to be destroyed.

“This group illegally infiltrated our facility and installed cameras to record video of the euthanasia process and our team members,” Hansen said in a statement, adding that the group’s actions “only reinforce the hurt” felt by employees.

The video, which the group said was taken with a hidden camera last week, opens with a shot of pigs milling in a large, enclosed space. In another scene shot through a fog that the group says was steam, the barely visible pigs can be heard squealing. In a third scene, two men carrying what the group says are bolt guns walk among the apparently dead pigs, nudging them with their feet. In a final scene, a front-end loader scoops up the carcasses.

The state estimates that 600,000 pigs in Iowa could be destroyed as they back up on farms and cannot be processed into food. Iowa, the nation’s largest pork producer, raises about 50 million pigs a year.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig called the activists’ tactics “disgusting.”

“No producer wants to be faced with this decision. It goes against everything they stand for and do on a daily basis,” caring for the animals and raising them to feed families, Naig said Thursday when asked about the video during a press conference with Gov. Kim Reynolds about the coronavirus’ impact.

“We have folks with a clear agenda who are kicking our farmers when they’re down,” he said, adding that the producers are working with veterinarians who follow national guidelines when euthanizing animals.

► More: Iowa farm forced to euthanize pigs was ‘infiltrated’ by animal activists

Get the Iowa Business Update newsletter in your inbox.

Get the latest scoop on Iowa economic trends, development news, agriculture and retail delivered to your inbox.

Delivery: Varies

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians says shutting down a confinement’s ventilation — which raises the herd’s temperature and causes animals to die of hyperthermia — is an acceptable form of euthanasia in “constrained circumstances.”

The group’s board this month identified the COVID-19 meatpacking disruption as one of those situations. But the board said priority should be given to eight other preferred methods, including shooting, electrocution, gassing with carbon dioxide and manual blunt force, which is used primarily on small pigs.

Chris Rademacher, an Iowa State University Extension swine veterinarian, said shutting down ventilation is likely the best approach to euthanizing a large number of pigs. It’s safer for farmers than shooting, electrocution or using other preferred methods, which are more appropriate options when euthanizing a small number of animals, he said.

Rademacher also said mass depopulation takes less toll on farmers emotionally. “I can’t tell you how many producers get choked up” talking about euthanizing animals, he said.

Matt Johnson, the Direct Action Everywhere investigator, filed a complaint last week with the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office, alleging Iowa Select committed criminal animal neglect.

Grundy County Sheriff Rick Penning said he talked with state veterinarian Jeff Kaisand, who indicated that Iowa Select followed proper procedures in euthanizing the animals. Penning said he would not take further action on the group’s complaint.

However, after filing their complaint last week, Johnson of Berkeley, California, and coworker Linda Cridge of Fishers, Indiana, were charged with trespass, a simple misdemeanor.

A veterinarian who works with Direct Action Everywhere and reviewed the group’s video said shutting down the ventilation “resulted in extreme, prolonged and unnecessary suffering.”

The group said that pigs are “blasted with steam and heat exceeding 140 degrees in a barn.” Two or three hours into the process, the group said, Iowa Select workers walk through the barn, “shooting pigs exhibiting obvious signs of life” with bolt guns.

The American Veterinary Medical Association states that additional action may be needed to ensure pigs succumb after shutting down ventilation systems, such as adding heat and humidity to the confined space. Rademacher said the pigs should quickly lose consciousness with the increased heat and humidity before dying.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture sent a letter to the state’s county attorneys this week, saying that “it is not uncommon for people to question the methods employed” in the challenging situation. It said the swine veterinarians association “recognizes the dire situation” producers face.

Johnson said an Iowa Select whistleblower contacted Direct Action Everywhere because he was concerned about animal welfare.

“When we have a system that is fundamentally broken — with government reinforcing, rather than regulating, an abusive industry which only serves those at the very top — it’s left to ordinary people to take action ourselves and hold our elected officials accountable to the will of the people,” Johnson said in a statement.

He and Direct Action Everywhere targeted state Sen. Ken Rozenboom’s family pig facility for an undercover investigation a year ago, releasing photos and video from the Oskaloosa farm in January.

The group said it sought to expose inhumane treatment of animals at the facility, which was leased to another farmer, because of Rozenboom’s support for the state’s so-called “ag-gag” law. The statute makes it a crime for animal welfare activists, journalists and others to go undercover at meatpacking plants and livestock facilities to document conditions.

Rozenboom called the action a “professional hit job.” State and local investigators said a complaint Johnson filed against Rozenboom, alleging animal abuse, was unfounded.



The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) sent an urgent message to pork producers today, warning of animal welfare activists taking videos of hogs being euthanized on farms.

Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) has members on the ground in Iowa, says CSIF, and all farms and processing plants should be on high alert that they may be targeted in an attempt to capture video footage and cause a disruption to normal business activity.

Livestock farmers must be vigilant in monitoring the security of farms at all times, for the safety of people and livestock.

“Most people think they will never be the target, but no one can assume they are safe,” says CSIF executive director Brian Waddingham. “There are many preventive measures you can take to protect your farm and your livestock.”  For a complete list of ways to keep your farm out of the crosshairs, click here.

If you find a suspicious vehicle near your farm or discover criminals on your property, do not try to apprehend them, says Waddingham. Contact local law enforcement.

This is an extreme animal rights group that is taking advantage of a heart-wrenching, crisis situation some livestock farmers are faced with to advance their own agenda – which is to eliminate animal agriculture, he says.

For additional suggestions on preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk, as well as suggestions of what to do if you are the victim of a criminal act, visit our website.

Youth hunters prepare for hunting season

On Sunday, kids from 7 to 17 years old spent the day learning how to properly and safely handle hunting guns.

WASHTA, Iowa (KCAU) – On Sunday kids in Washta, Iowa spent their morning training for the upcoming hunting season.

On Sunday, kids from 7 to 17 years old spent the day learning how to properly and safely handle hunting guns. A priority for both the kids and adults at the range.

“When I was little my dad would always go out pheasant hunting and I always wanted to come with and deer hunting and I just like it because I’ve done it a lot,” said Ty Schlichting, a youth hunter.

“My dad really got me started shooting and it has always been a really good way to bond with him,” said Joshua Lauck, a youth hunter.

For many of the kids at Peasant’s Forever Youth Shooting event, learning how to use rifles properly gives them an opportunity to have some extra bonding time with their dads.

“This is a skill and hobby that these kids can use when they are 90 and above,” said Brian Lauck, the youth chair for Cherokee County Pheasant’s Forever.

Even though the event was full of kids having fun, they also recognized just how dangerous guns can be.

The International Hunter Education Association says about 1,000 hunting accidents occur a year.

“We like to teach the kids the safety how to properly use the shotguns and rifles their a tool just like a hammer so we want to teach these kids the proper way to use these tools,” said Lauck.

“They teach you like the safeties of a gun and how to shoot one,” said AJ Wolcott, a youth hunter.

Officials say gun education is key to responsibly passing on the hobby to the next generation of hunters.

“They are gonna want to know what it is anyways so to teach them rather than have them figure it out on their own is a safer way,” said Joshua Lauck.

“An incident can happen at any time or anywhere,” said Conley Ginger, a youth hunter.

Allowing them to safely take part in family traditions, One shot at a time.

“I like watching the kids shoot them having a good time. Watching them break their first clay and shooting that then rink it’s just a lot of fun watching the smilies when the kids shoot so that’s the reward right there,” said Lauck.

At the end of October, these kids will be back with their rifles in hand ready to go a youth hunting trip together.

Deputy: Officers searched hours before finding hunter’s body

CENTERVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Law enforcement officials have testified that it took them several hours to find the body of a slain Iowa hunter after he was reported missing.

The Daily Iowegian reports that Appanoose County Deputy Jonathan Printy testified Friday in the murder trial of Ethan Davis that he was the first officer to respond in the early morning hours of Nov. 24 after 31-year-old Curtis Ross was reported missing. Printy says he and others searched a wooded area of southwestern Rathbun Lake for three to four hours before breaking to wait for daylight.

Deputy Cody Jellison found Ross’ body in a creek around 8 a.m.

Davis is charged with first-degree murder in Ross’ death. Prosecutors say Davis perched from a hilltop and used an AR-15 to shoot Ross, who was also stabbed more than two dozen times. Officials say they don’t have a motive for the killing.


Information from: The Daily Iowegian,