'Piglet Smoothie' Keeps Hogs Virus-Free
Humane Society exposes icky practice at Kentucky farm
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2014 12:08 PM CST
Hogs are seen on a farm Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, in Washington, Mo.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

(Newser) – This is about as unappetizing a meal as you could get. The Humane Society has exposed a method of dealing with the fast-spreading porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) that's killed more than 2 million piglets since April: Grind up the intestines of piglets that succumbed to it, and feed the "piglet smoothie" to the sows—some of which could be the dead piglets' own mothers, NPR reports. A video of the practice, filmed this year at Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Kentucky, can be found here, but be warned, it's very graphic. "It's beyond disturbing seeing piglets being prepared for this process," an activist narrates on the video, which also shows pigs confined to small gestation crates that block movement.

The Humane Society also saw 900 piglets die of the virus in two days, sometimes suffering for days, while some sows' legs were tied together with rope that cut into their flesh; in some cases, their skin grew over the rope. Feeding dead pigs to live ones is illegal in Kentucky, the society says—it may also violate federal law—but some hog farmers and vets say the practice is the only way to keep PEDV from destroying the US hog supply as there's no vaccine to give sows to keep piglets from contracting it. Says one vet: "When I'm faced with the choice of seeing and carrying hundreds of dead baby pigs out of a barn or overcoming the 'ick factor,' I'm going to get over that 'ick factor,' because my goal is to save lives."

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Jul 8, 2014 10:57 AM CDT
I really must wonder how many people here realize that any time sows are stressed, they will kill and eat their own pigs. Without farrowing crates, they will lay down on their own pigs and smother them. Like many species of carnivorous animals, boars will kill and eat the young, if allowed to do so. I like hogs. They were one of my father's favorite animals to raise. My wife's family always had hogs, and I worked with them there. They are smarter than horses, cows, goats & especially sheep. While they like mud, they do not wallow in their own waste. They will pick out one corner of the pen to defecate, rather than just going wherever they are at the time. But hogs are not what some people here seem to think. They are predators. They will attack and kill other animals, including members of other herds and their own young, given the chance. To describe them as "caring" and "sentient beings" shows a complete disconnect with reality.
Mar 17, 2014 1:15 AM CDT
Another revelation about the practices in the meat industry.
Mar 15, 2014 7:32 AM CDT
Sounds a bit dicey to me, could be how mad cow came about- they are not cannibalistic. Can't they just come up with a vaccine???