Costco likes to brag about its wholesale prices, but the hidden cost of Costco's cheap products is blatant animal abuse.

A new Mercy For Animals investigation provides a shocking look into a Costco pork supplier—Christensen Farms—where mother pigs and their piglets are forced to suffer unrelenting abuse and lives of extreme confinement and misery.

Between December of 2011 and March of 2012, an MFA investigator documented egregious cruelty and neglect at a Christensen Farms facility in Hanska, Minnesota, including:

  • Thousands of mother pigs confined to filthy, metal gestation crates so small they are unable to even turn around or lie down comfortably for nearly their entire lives;

  • Pigs suffering from large, open wounds and pressure sores from rubbing against the bars of their tiny cages or lying on the hard concrete flooring;

  • Workers slamming piglets into the ground and leaving them to slowly suffer and die;

  • Workers ripping out the testicles and slicing off the tails of fully conscious piglets without the use of any painkillers;

  • Sick and injured pigs with severe, bleeding wounds or infections left to suffer without veterinary care;

  • A mother pig—physically taxed from constant birthing—with an inflamed and bleeding prolapse; and

  • Workers preparing to force-feed sows diarrhea and dead piglets.


After reviewing the undercover footage, veterinarian Dr. Lee Schrader condemned the Costco pork supplier, saying

"Sows confined in gestation crates suffer significant welfare problems, both physical and emotional... These barren, tiny metal crates, in which the pigs are confined for months on end, are blatantly cruel."

Animal behaviorist Dr. Jonathan Balcombe also denounced the facility, stating the video shows

"Sows trapped in tiny indoor prisons too narrow for them to turn around in."

Dr. Balcombe continued: "The only thing [these pigs] have to stimulate them is a horizontal iron bar right in front of their noses. They bite and gnaw at the bar. One sow appears totally consumed by boredom, her mouth clamped manically on the bar...

"Overall, what I saw in this video is all too familiar to me from other factory farm footage I have seen: it is an unremitting hell on earth. These intelligent animals endure awful physical and psychological suffering. No animal ever deserved to be treated like this."


Confining mother pigs in such crates is so blatantly cruel that the practice has been banned by the entire European Union, New Zealand, and the states of Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, California, Maine, Michigan, and Rhode Island.

Recognizing their inherent cruelty, major food providers,including McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Kroger and Safeway have started demanding their suppliers do away with gestation crates.

Unfortunately, Costco—one of the largest grocery retailers in the world—supports blatant animal abuse by continuing to sell pork from producers who confine mother pigs to crates barely larger than their own bodies.

Costco has both the power and ethical responsibility to reject this cruel factory farming practice by immediately adopting policies that require suppliers to phase out their use of gestation crates.

Please help urge Costco to to the right thing.
Take action here.

As MFA works to expose and end the exploitation of animals at the hands of the meat, egg and dairy industries, consumers still hold the greatest power of all to prevent needless suffering of farmed animals by adopting a healthy and humane vegan diet.

For more ways to get involved and show your support, go to mercyforanimals.org