Did You Know McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Sonic All Support HSUS?

(Disclaimer:  The intent of this blog is to help people outside of agriculture to understand why some farmers choose to raise their animals indoors.  What works on my farm may not work for another farmer, each farm is different, as are the genetics of hogs.  My intent with this post is to help people understand why some farmers use modern technology on their farm.  Our family changed the type of hog we raise to be a leaner hog with less body fat because of consumer demand.  With that change came additional challenges to raising this type of pig in harsh weather conditions.  That is why we chose to move our animals inside of barns because the lean type of hogs we raise can not endure the weather as well as hogs with more body fat. This is not meant to be an indictment of farmers who choose to raise their hogs outdoors.)


Today McDonald’s announced they would phase out the use of gestation stalls from their pork suppliers.  They received pressure from HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States, which is not connected to our local pet shelters as their commercials lead you to believe.  HSUS is bullying the agriculture industry by putting pressure on restaurants like Wendy’s, Burger King, Sonic, SubwayQuiznos, Red Robin, Denny’s, and McDonald’s to force farmers into using certain methods of production that HSUS sees as humane.

Our family has raised hogs outdoors and indoors, we’ve used gestation group housing for our sows and gestation stalls.  I wonder how many farmers these companies spoke to before they caved to HSUS’ bullying?  Did they ever ask a farmer what it was like to raise animals using each method of production?  Chipotle has a commercial on their website attacking modern livestock farming for using barns to protect our livestock.  I wonder if they talked to a farmer who was using a barn to find out why they adopted this method of production?  The video below shows why farmers use modern barns.

As a farmer, animal welfare is my top priority.  I want my animals to be safe, secure, content and comfortable.  My family made the decisions we made because of the personal experiences we had raising hogs outside. This does not mean that farmers who currently raise hogs outside have similar challenges.

But, from personal experience, I remember when we had our lean hogs outside, it was miserable for the hogs in the summer.  A hog can not sweat so when we had heat indexes of 110 degrees, our hogs couldn’t cool down their bodies.  We would haul water to the hogs all day long to try to cool them off.  The hogs would huddle together to fight for the mud to cool their bodies, some hogs were injured due to this fighting and died.  Many hogs died from heat exhaustion.  Our barns keep our hogs cool in the summer thanks to a computer controlled climate system that regulates the temperature in our barn.  We also use drippers to keep the hogs cool as well.

In the winter, our hogs were out in lots with small open front shelters to try and keep them warm.  We would bed them down with straw but the hogs would still shiver and shake from the cold weather and cold ground because they had little body fat to keep them warm.  (note: our hogs do not have the fat on them some hogs did 20 years ago due to consumers wanting leaner meat)  They had difficulty walking in the deep snow and they couldn’t stay standing on the ice.  We had many hogs with broken legs due to falling on ice.  They would huddle together to try and find warmth and fighting would break out.  Some of the hogs were trampled to death and the less dominant animals would be left out of the shelter and we would find them frozen to the ground, dead.  Our experience led us to the decision that, for our farm, there was a better way.

We decided that there was a better way for us to care for the animals on our farm since our hogs were not the same fat pigs as 30 years ago.  When a sow gave birth outdoors in this extreme cold, her piglets would also freeze to the ground; they can not regulate their body temperatures in the first weeks of life.   Our hog barns help prevent these problems, they are heated in the winter and we have heat lamps for the newborn pigs so they have additional warmth in the first weeks of life.

Predator attacks were also a big problem for us when our hogs were outdoors.  Bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, and oppossums would attack the smaller pigs and kill them.  Wildlife and birds also tracked diseases into our herd and caused our hogs to get sick.   Our barns keep our hogs away from these predators and diseases.

When we used group housing for our pregnant sows, we had a lot of problems.  The first problem was the bully sow, who reminds me of HSUS because both want to control what others eat.  The bully sow doesn’t allow other sows to eat, they fight with the less dominant sows and prevent them from going to the feed.  As a result, the bully sow eats too much and will give birth to pigs that are too big to pass through the birth canal, many times resulting in the sow’s death and the piglet’s death.  The less dominant sows, who don’t have enough feed, give birth to still born pigs or low viability pigs that have a very low chance of survival due to not having proper nutrition during gestation.  Sows would rather bite their neighbors ear off than share a meal with them.  Our gestation stalls allow us to monitor the feed each sow takes in so she has proper nutrition throughout the entire pregnancy.

Another problem we experienced with group housing were the sows being stepped on by other sows which resulted in abortions.  When a sow lays down to rest in our stalls, she has no worries of being stepped on by another sow.  Our sows are also protected from injury because there is no fighting with other sows.  We are able to give each sow hands-on attention multiple times a day in our stalls.  My mother-in-law examines each sow daily for body condition, she does this with her hands.  She is protected while she does this and the sow doesn’t mind having my mother-in-law rubbing her back, stomach, sides and legs.  If our sows were in group housing, my mother-in-law couldn’t give each sow this attention, she would be knocked down and hurt doing this in a group setting.  We prevent many problems by doing this hands-on exam daily.

As you can see, we have implemented every practice on our farm with the goal of keeping our animals safe, healthy and protected.  Farmers are faced with the challenge of producing more food than ever before and modern technology is helping my family achieve this goal humanely.  Housing animals inside a barn is just as humane and safe as housing an animal outdoors.  Each method has challenges and each method is acceptable in my opinion.  HSUS has a goal of eliminating meat from our diets, just visit their website and you will see their vegetarian eating guide.  This is their true goal, it isn’t about protecting animals.  They are even lobbying churches now to join their faithful eating cause to regulate agriculture and make meat less available to all.

Did any of these companies talk to farmers like us before they made their decisions?  I don’t know the answer to this question and I probably never will.  What I do know is that it’s time for people to hear the real story behind HSUS.  It’s time consumers started to hear the other side of the issue from the hands that are producing the food, not the hand that wants to keep it away from your table.  Farmers & Ranchers need to engage in conversations and show people how we produce food.  We have come a long way in agriculture and we are always looking for ways to improve.  This isn’t what HSUS & PETA tell people though.  I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians, I just don’t want to be forced to become one.  Just like I wouldn’t expect a vegan or vegetarian to be forced to eat meat.  This is a free country, we can not allow one group to bully us out of our freedoms.

Update:  A reader asked for a real life video of indoor hog farming.  Here is a video that does a great job of explaining and showing what indoor hog farming looks like.  Sorry I didn’t include it earlier. 

About Chris Chinn

My husband, Kevin, and I are 5th generation farmers. We live on our family hog farm in Missouri with our two children. Our dream is that our children will have the opportunity be the 6th generation of farmers in our family.
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36 Responses to Did You Know McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Sonic All Support HSUS?

  1. Andrea says:

    HSUS just wants to stop all animal agriculture. Too bad they don’t tell their donors that they are helping HSUS lobby against their steak dinner.

  2. Very, very good blog! I would love to see this republished in many different newspapers.
    As one who did not grow up on a farm, I have become intrigued by and impressed with farmers and ranchers as I learned years ago things like what you just explained so clearly. It’s what made working as an ag journalist so interesting.
    Agriculture needs to be more aggressive as it promotes these kinds of practices and informs the public – its consumers – about just what it takes to put food on our tables.
    I am merely a consumer, but I get it! I want to help other consumers and policy makers “get it” too.

  3. Reblogged this on Across the Back Fence and commented:
    This is the kind of clear message that agriculture needs to promote… And not just in response to the actions described. American agriculture needs to be more aggressive in its own self-promotion if it hopes to survive as an industry. America’s sovereignty and our freedom depend on it!

  4. Brian says:

    Reblogged this on The Farmer's Life and commented:
    Do yourself a favor and check out Chris Chinn’s blog. She does a fantastic job of telling the story of how things really happen on her farm.

  5. Mark Klaus says:

    GREAT blog Chris!!

  6. okcableguy says:

    Incredibly written! lots of heart, fact, soul, and detail. Thanks for the excellent blog! Will be reblogging in the morning!

  7. okcableguy says:

    Reblogged this on Small Nebraska Farming and commented:
    A great write up about farmer from a farmer. From Pen to Plate! A must read by EVERYONE! Help us in the AG field get our story out better and faster than these big shot bullies that don’t have a clue, SPREAD THE WORD!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  9. Well said, as farmers and livestock producers we have to become more comfortable with sharing our stories. Sometimes it is a simple as talking to the cashier at the grocery or maybe the cab driver at the airport when we travel. We need to make sure that each day we are reaching our to someone who may or may not understand our lifestyle and our family farm choices. Really appreciate you taking time to put this down and I shared it on my FB page. Will definately keep checking back for updates!

  10. janice says:

    Could we see a video showing an average day on a modern farm instead of a cartoon? I think it would help me understand this practice better, especially the details of making the hog “comfortable.” Thank you.

    • Chris Chinn says:

      This is a very good website that has a video that describes indoor pork production and sow housing methods. When you are on the website, go to the pork documentary. It explains free style stalls and how the sow is allowed to leave if she chooses. The veterinarian explains the sow stays in the stall 90% of the time but she is still protected from other sows while in her free style stall.

    • Steven Simmons says:

      Great post, they never see the emotions that we have when one of our sows or for that matter the piglet we pull if it passes away, in our arms after giving it mouth to snout. For most of them it’s the classic one size fits all comments.

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  12. Thank you for sharing this! This just proves how much impact HSUS has in the food chain. It shows how as producers, we must stand together to educate the public about why we do the things we do, whether it be in industries of pork, beef, dairy, poultry, etc. I will definitely be sharing this blog to some of my fellow peers.

  13. Lisa says:

    This is very informative and worth sharing.
    Thank you.

  14. Kathy says:

    Thanks Chris for taking the time to share this.

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  16. Steven Simmons says:

    Thank you for telling the truth in regard to what most of us in a small farm situation are going through to keep our rural lifestyle. It is also correctly reported that this group will stop at nothing until life stock is no longer produced in this world. From the lie on global warming due to manure, to how most life stock is processed at the local level, they are also in bed with the UN Agenda 22 elements, they are NOT you local SPCA and please keep exposing them for what they really are.

  17. Pressed this on my WordPress account also at Days of the Weeks. Great post Chris!

  18. Joe says:

    Nice article, very informative. The thing with the HSUS and other animal rights groups is that they think all breeding of animals (even dogs and cats) is cruel and unethical, so there is no pleasing them. The president of the HSUS agreed with a radio host in a podcast (number 15) on his website that snake breeders are comparable to child pimps. And PETA compared people who eat meat to Jeffrey Dahmer. These people aren’t rational and have no clue about animal behavior or husbandry. Everything is cruel and inhumane to them.

  19. Reblogged this on JenREESources's Blog and commented:
    This is a great blog post from Chris Chinn, a farmer in Missouri, who shares why her family raises pigs the way they do to protect them and keep them comfortable. You can read additional blog posts from her at https://chrischinn.wordpress.com

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  21. equusarian01 says:

    all that can be said is to do what you can to better the life of animals and keep telling people the true story of animal husbandry. HSUS,PETA and the rest of the animal rights groups do everything in their power to mislead, confuse or just downright lie to the public! I have no problem with people choosing to be vegan/vegetarian but they do NOT have the right to tell me to stop eating meat! and yes, I do know how the animal gets from the barn to my table.

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  27. Nina says:

    I think the problem with many so called “animal rights” organizations is that they see everything in black and white. The logic of these organizations is if one farmer is cruel to his animals then ALL farmers must be cruel evil people. Clearly this gross generalization is not an accurate picture of the Agricultural industry. There must be a way to weed out the irresponsible farmers from the ones who are doing their job and truly do care for their animals.

    • Chris Chinn says:

      I think we should all be allowed to have a choice when it comes to choosing food for our families. The current movements are taking that choice away from families; and many have no idea it is happening.

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  30. Gary Anderson says:

    I detest and find the ads by the HS of America such as shown of Fox News disgusting and detrimental to society in general. Too bad the HS of America does have the same respect for Human Life. I realize that “business is business” and that Fox News etc need revenue but this kind of advertising is disgusting.

  31. Gary Anderson says:

    I meant to say “Too bad the HS of America does NOT have the same respect for Human Life.”

  32. Kristen M. says:

    I really appreciate this post so much, mostly for the video at the end. While I still struggle internally to justify taking a life for our own benefit, I am grateful to know there are farmers who do their best to raise healthy, happy animals. It’s easy to see photos and assume it’s all cruel. It really helped me to know that the pigs are farmed indoors because otherwise they would suffer because of one another and the weather. I will do my best to see things from all sides before jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst. I still have a lot to think about in regards to my own ethical stand (I’m an ex-vegetarian who is still trying to determine what exactly I believe), but this has broadened my view. Thanks again!

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