Significant animal welfare issues found at Austin hog barn

It was more than two years ago that provincial officials had to shoot 1,300 hogs near Austin

No charges will be laid following a two-year investigation into circumstances leading to the mass euthanization of hogs at a barn near Austin in September 2012.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Veterinarian said the case was handed over to Manitoba Justice last summer after a significant investigation, which included interviewing multiple witnesses.

“The case was discussed in detail with Manitoba Justice that completed a thorough review of the matter,” revealed an emailed statement. “While significant animal welfare issues where found, it was concluded that due to the nature of how those issues occurred there was not a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”

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A reasonable likelihood of conviction is required to proceed with charges.

It was in September 2012 that officials responded to reports of animals in distress at the barn near Austin, which was in the midst of being depopulated by its operators — brothers Bernie and Menno Bergen. The brothers had been ordered to vacate the property, which is owned by HP Farm Equipment Ltd. At the time, a representative for the company said the Bergens were six years behind in their rent.

Provincial officials had offered the operators assistance in depopulating the barn, but the offer was declined.

When officials from the Chief Veterinary Office entered the barn they encountered a disturbing situation, requiring the euthanization of the 1,300 young hogs left without food after the sows were shipped in the preceding days.

Neither Bernie or Menno Bergen could be reached for comment.

About the author

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Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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