An investigation is underway after hundreds of pigs were found dead and many others were discovered suffering from neglect at a farm southwest of Winnipeg, said RCMP.

Officers received a complaint from a Hutterite colony about colony members being denied access to hogs they had boarded at a local farm.

On Friday, Manitou RCMP went to the property in the RM of Lorne. Officers discovered as many as 500 dead pigs, along with about 160 that were so sick that they had to be put down. Many of the animals were found living without proper food, water or ventilation.

RCMP said evidence of "severe neglect" was observed. About 2,000 animals were rescued.

Rheal Lesage lives close to the farm, near Notre Dame de Lourdes.

"We are all wondering how this could be? We don't even know how a person could ever think of doing that," said Lesage.

Lesage, who is also a farmer, suspected something was wrong. His son couldn't stand the growing stench coming from the area.

While CTV News worked on the story, a man who neighbours identified as Martin Grenier, the farm's owner, approached CTV journalists. He drove off without answering questions about whether he owned the farm or if he knew what happened.

Dr. Dale Douma, a provincial veterinarian, said crews worked to help many of the pigs.

"We never like to see these animal welfare cases but we are trained to deal with them and at the time our immediate concern was to just deal with the live pigs," said Douma.

Officials with the Manitoba Pork Council called the incident a tragic case and said the majority of producers take great pride in how their hogs are treated and raised.

Twyla Francois is with Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals. She drove from Winnipeg to see what went on inside the barn and said it's clear that charges should be laid.

"This case is so horrendous and the numbers are just so horrendous that it would be a slap in the face to all Manitobans if something isn't done," said Francois.

Provincial veterinary officials and RCMP officers are investigating the case.

- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley