Hundreds of pigs found malnourished on a northern Kentucky farm will be euthanized if homes for them can’t be found in the coming weeks, an animal rescue group said. A rescue effort is now underway to fund the pigs’ care and placement, the cost of which will be “astronomical,” according to the Pig Advocates League.

Of the 458 distressed pot-bellied pigs, at least 10 are also pregnant, state officials told Cincinnati’s WLWT. Meanwhile, rescue organizations nationwide have pitched in for the effort.

“We have never seen a hoarding case of this magnitude,” Josh Carpenter Costner, director of South Carolina’s Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary, told the station.

The dilemma traces back to 2015 when a few pigs on a woman’s farm in Falmouth, Kentucky, “ballooned” in number, “mostly due to out-of-control breeding,” the Pig Advocates League, a nonprofit, said in an update online.

The farm owner, Lori Tristan, told the Associated Press that she took in the pigs as part of her own rescue operation until their numbers became overwhelming. The state took custody of the pigs last week, the agency reported.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife had set a Sept. 14 deadline to place the pigs before they would be euthanized, but the Pigs Advocates League said Monday on Facebook that the deadline would be extended as long as rescuers showed progress in placing the pigs.

“Sadly, it is not going to end well for the majority,” the group stated.

Local sanctuary Atti’s Acres has provided feed for the animals and set up fencing to stop further breeding, the nonprofit said, but the small sanctuary can’t fund the massive undertaking on its own.

The state requires all pigs going to private homes to be spayed or neutered, the league said, while those leaving the state must have valid health certificates.  The nonprofit is currently seeking donations online to defray such expenses.

Those interested in fostering or adopting one or more of the pigs can apply also online.

“The goal is to save as many as we can,” the league said in the update. “It is a horrifying situation, but the pigs didn’t ask for this.”

The state’s fish and wildlife department was not able to comment on the matter Tuesday to USA TODAY.

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner

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