WHEATLAND – Wyoming Premium Farms LLC in Wheatland has fired five employees, including a manager, after an internal investigation conducted in response to allegations of animal cruelty on the pig farm.
The investigation took place after the Humane Society of the United States released a video showing alleged abuse of farm animals.
The undercover video was filmed in April, according to the animal rights group. After receiving an anonymous tip, an employee of the animal rights group got hired at at Premium Farms and recorded activity with a hidden camera. The video of the alleged abuse made national headlines.
The Wyoming Livestock Board investigated the incident and turned over its report to Platte County Attorney Eric Jones on June 11.
Jones will determine if any criminal charges will be filed. An employee for the attorney said Thursday that the office does not discuss on-going investigations.
Doug DeRouchey, WPF general manager, said the company has taken a number of steps to prevent any of its employees from improperly handling animals in the future.
“A comprehensive internal investigation concluded that most acts of those WPF employees shown in the video were in breach of policies and rules regarding animal handling that were set by the company,” he said.
DeRouchey said an external inspection of the company’s facilities by a third party auditor found that no animals had been injured because of damaged facilities.
“Judging by the condition of the animals, there were no obvious signs of improper handling. Overall, the animals were in good health with very low incidence of infectious diseases,” he said.
The cause of this incident, he said, was weak supervision and a lack of systematic education and training.
DeRouchey said Premium Farms has also taken other steps. They include:
Signing a preliminary contract to retain an external farm management company to provide ongoing animal welfare education and other services.
Strengthening its training and education programs with the objective of ensuring all employees are aware of their responsibilities for animal care.
All employees will be Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transportation Quality Assurance trained.
As an additional check, Premium Farms will conduct an internal audit of animal handling every quarter and an external audit by a visiting veterinarian every year.
To ensure continued compliance, a hot line will be establish to enable employees to submit anonymous reports of improper animal handling.
In addition, Audubon Manning Vet Clinic from Iowa has signed a preliminary contract to manage the welfare, health and production at all of the company’s swine farms.
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