PRESS KIT: INVESTIGATION EXPOSES piles of dead piglets rotting in mother's feces at smithfield



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INVESTIGATION EXPOSES piles of dead piglets rotting in mother's feces at smithfield


Contact: Wayne Hsiung,, (650) 465-1672

Activists Expose Pigs in Crates, Contrary to Company Promises

July 6, 2017, Berkeley, CA – Graphic footage of piles of dead baby pigs rotting in feces while others drank from bloody, mutilated nipples of sows was released today as part of an investigation by the international animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) into Smithfield’s Circle Four Farms in Milford, Utah, one of the largest pig farms in the country. The investigation, led by former Northwestern Law professor Wayne Hsiung, also found that many of the 74,000 sows kept at Circle Four Farms spent their lives in gestation crates -- in contrast to owner Smithfield Foods’ claims of using almost no gestation crates. The DxE activists say the investigation, shot with virtual reality technology developed by Condition One, shows the inherent violence of using animals for food. 

“Pig farming is an inherently brutal business,” said Hsiung. “The public has no appetite for this suffering, so corporations engage in deceptive practices to ensure consumers don’t find out what’s truly happening.”

Both Circle Four Farms and parent company Smithfield Foods -- supplier to Costco, Walmart and other major retailers -- have been subject to scrutiny before. Circle Four was at the center of a human slavery scandal in 2010, and it made headlines again in 2015 as one of the first farms in the country to exploit new “ag gag” laws in a 2015 case against four activists who photographed the farm from the side of the road. Smithfield, the largest pork producer in the world, has been a subject of numerous cruelty investigations -- in one case, leading to criminal charges against farm employees. 

“Any time we are putting animal welfare into the hands of profit-seeking corporations, horrific scenes like these are the only result we can expect,” said DxE investigator Jon Frohnmayer. “Through heavy lobbying, these companies have ensured that they are immune from any consequences.”

Smithfield has committed to eliminating the use of gestation crates for pregnant sows by the end of 2017, but DxE activists say that all the pregnant pigs they observed at the facility remained in crates. Smithfield has also made no commitments regarding farrowing crates, the type used in nursing facilities where investigators found piglets drinking from bleeding nipples. 

DxE activists in dozens of cities across the world are planning demonstrations at Costco, demanding that the retailer cut ties with animal-abusing corporations. The activists say that Costco, which has publicly committed to ensuring "Five Freedoms" for all animals raised in its supply chain, has engaged in a pattern of consumer fraud. Two activists involved in DxE's last investigation of Costco animal welfare marketing now face felony charges. 

A full press kit, including photos and video, can be found here

Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) is a network of animal rights activists across the world.  We use creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment.  Visit Direct Action Everywhere on Facebook and at  Follow us on Twitter @DxEverywhere.




  • “Smithfield farms are hell on earth for animals,” said DxE investigator Andrew Sharo. “The company knows what is happening, but they’ll do anything they can to keep consumers from finding out.”

  • “These farms clearly know that consumers would be outraged if they knew what was going on,” said DxE investigator Samer Masterson.

  • “Most people would never be able to subject animals to the horrors we found at Circle Four, so companies like Costco deceive them into supporting violence,” said DxE investigator Paul Picklesimer.



Photos, video, and other materials from the farm can be found here.



Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) is a grassroots network of animal rights activists. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area in late 2013, DxE has since grown to have participating chapters in over 160 cities in 30 different countries. Drawing from the power of the grassroots and groundbreaking social scientific research, DxE uses creative nonviolent protest to challenge speciesism throughout society.

In January and November 2015, DxE released investigations into two of Whole Foods market’s most notable suppliers, including a “Certified Humane” egg farm and a turkey facility that was one of only three farms out of Whole Foods’ 2100+ suppliers to receive a 5+ rating on its Global Animal Partnership welfare scheme. The investigations and the ensuing protests around the world received coverage in hundreds of news outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. DxE has since filed charges against Diestel Farms, the turkey facility, for consumer fraud.

Since January 2016, DxE has released close to a dozen groundbreaking investigations of supposedly humane facilities, including a model egg supplier under California’s Proposition 2, which bans battery cages for hens; a “natural” pork supplier to Costco and the LA Dodgers; a cage-free Costco supplier; and the turkey supplier to the White House. The investigations received media coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Daily Mail, among other outlets. DxE’s Open Rescue model has gained momentum as a tactic for grassroots activists as well, with an independent team in Colorado executing the first-ever investigation into a Sprouts’ cage-free egg supplier. DxE’s Open Rescue Network provides open-source educational tools and resources to democratize investigatory work, serving as infrastructure for independent, grassroots teams of animal rights investigators around the world.

In June 2016, DxE released an investigation into dog meat farms in Yulin, China on ABC’s Nightline. DxE compared the violence against dogs in Yulin to violence against animals on farms in the United States.

DxE has won major institutional achievements at the local level, including a ban on the sale of fur in Berkeley, California. The group’s expanding legislative efforts are part of a long-term vision of making California the first state in the country to prohibit violence against animals. 



Direct Action Everywhere has been featured in the New York Times, ABC, and the Washington Post among hundreds of other media outlets. See press highlights and a full press archive here. To contact our press team, email