Update: After reviewing the footage, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against Holden Farms. The false claim is predicated on Holden Farms’ receipt, and the ultimate forgiveness, of $2.57 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funding under the CARES Act. To secure the funding, Holden Farms certified it is not engaging in any illegal activity under federal, state, or local laws. The lawsuit claims the four-month undercover investigation at the Utica facility establishes Holden Farms “engages in systematic and ongoing violations of the Federal Swine Health Protection Act, the Minnesota anti-cruelty law, and the Minnesota anti-garbage feeding law.” Learn more at https://holdenharms.org

Our most recently released undercover investigation at Holden Farms in Utica, Minnesota, which breeds pigs to supply pork to some of the largest pork companies in the U.S., shows repeated and routine abuse and neglect, including numerous instances of methods and practices inflicting suffering on countless animals. We believe that Holden Farms has violated multiple state laws and have asked law enforcement officials to prosecute for cruelty and neglect.

Video documentation includes:

  • Often-botched attempts to gas to death sick or injured piglets using carbon dioxide poisoning. Piglets are seen squirming and gasping for breath inside the gassing chamber box after the box had already been run.
  • Workers instructed to leave piglets suffering overnight instead of gassing them immediately.
  • Piglets subjected to castration via testicles being ripped out by hand without any pain relief. Piglets vocalize in distress from the castration while some of the workers tease one another by throwing the testicles at each other. This is done so often there is a wall covered with testicles stuck to it.
  • A practice known as “feedback” in which workers blend the intestines of dead piglets together with pig feces into a slurry and feed it to pregnant pigs.  A worker is seen retching and nearly vomiting as she blends the intestines.
  • Dozens of incidents of hitting, kicking, slapping, punching, beating with a paddle, or roughly handling pigs.
  • Widespread neglect, including open sores and prolapses where internal organs hang from live pigs’ bodies. 
  • Pigs injured or killed by cage systems, including one animal who was trapped between bars and died there due to neglect. Her body was then sawed in half and made the subject of jokes. 
  • Many animals died - in one month alone, Animal Outlook’s investigator removed hundreds of dead piglets.
  • Pigs subjected to cruel, yet standard, industry practices including cutting off piglets’ tails without pain relief with clippers or pliers and confining pregnant and nursing pigs in metal crates so small they cannot turn around.

Holden is part of the industry-developed We Care “responsible pork initiative.” According to the We Care website, “The six principles of our We Care commitment guide everything we do. They ensure we uphold the highest standards and constantly strive toward improvement.” The “ethical principles” include food safety, animal well-being, people, public health, environment and community.

Pigs are considered one of the smartest animals in the world and they’re incredibly playful. In fact, they’re pretty much just like the dogs many of us care for in our homes (though they’re actually smarter) — yet they’re confined, tortured and slaughtered for food. Here’s a comparison of what life should look like for pigs — versus the reality of what they endure.

Pigs trapped in this cruel system are born into a world of suffering. Even so, the cruelties we documented at Holden Farms are so rampant and so extreme; this is how this facility does business. Holden should not be allowed to continue this rampant abuse. Though we were not able to secure state animal cruelty charges here, the public stands with us in demanding an end to this large-scale cruelty.

By removing animals from your plate and encouraging others to do the same, you can help millions of animals.

Only with your support can we expose the suffering animals are forced to endure in facilities like Holden Farms. Your gift today will fuel undercover investigations into the cruel animal agriculture industry.