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MN hog farm suspends workers after claims they violated animal welfare policies

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A southwestern Minnesota farm suspended seven employees following an undercover investigation by an animal rights group, which claims the company violated its animal welfare policies at one of its hog facilities.

Christensen Farms & Feedlots, based in Sleepy Eye, announced Friday they are conducting a full internal investigation into the report of improper animal care at its hog facility, with CEO Glenn Stolt saying, "There is no place in this industry for individuals who mistreat animals.”

Christensen Farms says all employees are trained in appropriate animal care and are required to sign a document agreeing to the company's animal welfare policies.

The internal investigation into the employees' actions is ongoing, Stolt says, noting the company will determine if "additional enhancements need to be made to our animal welfare and animal husbandry policies" following its investigation.

Details on alleged abuse released

On Tuesday, Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals (LCA) released details – including video – of what it says is animal abuse following a four-month undercover investigation conducted this spring at Christensen Farms' "breed-to-ween" factory farm in Luverne.

The organization claims incidents of animal cruelty included workers slapping, kicking and stabbing sows, and dragging pigs by their snouts and ears; pigs with "severe injuries" being "forced to walk or drag themselves before being shot"; and leaving pigs with "debilitating illness and injuries" to suffer for prolonged periods, many unable to access food or water.

In addition to releasing details of its investigation, LCA says it has submitted a criminal complaint to the Rock County Sheriff's Office that details 18 incidents of animal cruelty, 17 incidents of animal mistreatment by neglect and one incident of animal mistreatment by deprivation.

Christensen Farms has not commented on the specific claims LCA has made against its employees since announcing their suspension last week.

Christensen Farms faced allegations of improper animal welfare in 2012 after undercover video was released, the PorkNetwork reports. However, animal care experts analyzed the video and found that while some practices could be improved, most of the video didn't show abuse or neglect.

The company is one of the largest pork producers in the United States, operating more than 50 sow farms across the Midwest, the company's website says.

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