More Than 15,000 Pigs Evidently Beaten; PETA Renews Call for Charges


For Immediate Release:
September 22, 2022

Robin Goist 202-483-7382

Ottumwa, Iowa – Just a month after PETA called for cruelty charges against a truck driver caught beating pigs at the Swift Pork Company slaughterhouse in Ottumwa, further federal reports reveal that inspectors witnessed additional beatings and uncovered evidence of the violence on the remains of more than 15,000 pigs who had apparently been struck. In response, PETA fired off another letter today to Wapello County Attorney Reuben Neff calling on him to investigate this pattern of abuse and file applicable criminal charges against all the workers responsible.

According to the reports, on January 5 and 14, February 23, and March 7, federal agents saw a truck driver and workers beating pigs with paddles, causing some to cry out. And on 101 different days between September 27, 2021, and March 30, 2022, agents found the remains of a total of approximately 15,300 pigs with paddle marks, hemorrhaging, and other evidence of abuse. When an agent raised the issue of excessive paddle use, a worker replied that the practice of beating pigs “will never go away.”

“This slaughterhouse is a cesspool of cruelty to countless sensitive, intelligent pigs, who cried out in pain as they were beaten,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is urging the Wapello County attorney to hold workers accountable for this astounding pattern of violence, which reminds us all that the only way to keep suffering off our plates is to go vegan.”

PETA points out that pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do. The group is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse such as those at Swift since at least 2007.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Neff follows.

September 22, 2022

The Honorable Reuben Neff
Wapello County Attorney

Dear Mr. Neff:

I’m writing to follow up on my request that your office (and a law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against those responsible for beating pigs, including on the head, at the JBS slaughterhouse located at 600 S. Iowa Ave. in Ottumwa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has documented evidence of countless more similar incidents, which merits your consideration. (See the attached table.)

On January 5, a federal agent saw a truck driver “striking several hogs on the back with enough force to elicit a slapping sound.” On January 14, FSIS staff saw a worker “raise his rattle paddle several times over his head and strike down with great speed into … hogs.” On February 23, a JBS worker was “contacting … hogs with [a] rattle paddle … further increasing agitation …. The hogs were vocalizing.” On March 7, a JBS worker “continue[d] to contact [a pig] with the paddle as [he] was slowly trying to walk …. By the time [the inspector reached the pig] the animal was … stressed, laying down and breathing heavily.”

Furthermore, between September 27, 2021, and March 30, FSIS staff found that the remains of approximately 15,301 pigs slaughtered at JBS bore “paddle marks” and other “evidence of implement misuse,” including hemorrhaging. These discoveries were made on 101 different days, and during the first shift alone on October 22, 2021, damage to the bodies of 1,050 pigs suggested such abuse. A few days later, a federal agent “voiced … concerns with the excessive use with the paddles when driving hogs.” Apparently, a JBS worker replied that such use—and ensuring wounds on animals—“will never go away.”

Of course, this all preceded the March 14 incident I previously brought to your attention, in which a truck driver was “striking numerous hogs … on the back … similar in motion as a person using a hammer with moderate force.” All this conduct appears to violate Iowa Code § 717.1A or § 717.2. Federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for such acts of abuse since at least 2007. Your office is these victims’ only hope for even a small measure of justice, which we respectfully encourage you to pursue. Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.


Daniel Paden
Vice President of Evidence Analysis


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