Farm banned by Red Tractor for pig cruelty supplies meat to major wholesalers
‘The sound of piglets’ heads being smashed against the wall, the cries of agony as their tiny teeth are clipped, and the terrified squeals of pigs being forced onto the slaughter truck with electric shocks could all be straight out of a horror film’
A farm where workers inflicted a string of torments on animals is a supplier to one of Britain’s biggest abattoirs that sells meat to major wholesalers.
It also sells pigs to a local butcher – prompting campaigners to say the footage proves it is a myth that locally bred meat means higher welfare.
Video taken at the Bedfordshire farm revealed a litany of abuse that broke welfare regulations including:
- A worker swinging a tiny piglet by one leg and smashing its head against a wall
- Piglets teeth being clipped off without pain relief
- Pigs being illegally and repeatedly shocked with an electric prod in their sides and neck
- A piglet left frothing at the mouth on a pile of corpses
- Dozens of dead piglets littering the floor of the farrowing (birthing) shed as well as live piglets trapped in crates with dead siblings
- Pigs crammed into barren pens so small they are forced to lie on each other in the heatwave
- At least one creature suffering from a tumour or hernia
Animal-welfare investigators uncovered the breaches of regulations at Rosebury Farm in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, which had passed five Red Tractor inspections this year including one last month – all of which the farm had been alerted to in advance.
Footage of wounded pigs raises questions over Red Tractor scheme
But an unannounced inspection took place lafter the activists, from Animal Equality, disclosed the footage. The farm was then suspended.
The activists’ evidence showed how when piglets were slammed against a wall one continued to kick for at least 10 seconds, suggesting it died in extreme pain.
Last month The Independent revealed how animals at a farm that had been inspected and authorised by Red Tractor officials were found to be suffering from painful, infected injuries.
The practice of using an electric prod is restricted to “extreme circumstances only” under law. At Rosebury Farm in Dunstable workers were filmed using an electric prod to load pigs onto a lorry heading to an abattoir.
The investigators trailed one lorry load of pigs from the farm to Cheale Meats in Essex, a slaughterhouse that supplies the biggest wholesalers in the UK. It is believed meat from Cheale ends up in major supermarkets.
Another lorry went from the farm to Evans & Son, a “traditional” butchers in Bedfordshire that boasts of selling only local meat.
Many consumers mistakenly believe that buying meat from a local butcher or farmers’ market means the animals had a better life.Toni Shephard
Dr Toni Shephard, executive director of Animal Equality, said the investigation showed it was not true that local butchers or farmers’ markets guaranteed better welfare.
She said: “The sound of piglets’ heads being smashed against the wall, the cries of agony as their tiny teeth are clipped, and the terrified squeals of pigs being forced onto the slaughter truck with electric shocks could all be straight out of a horror film.
“Yet these harrowing scenes are from the much romanticised local, family farm producing British pork under the Red Tractor label.
“It’s time consumers were told the truth – labels and certificates do not prevent animals from suffering in the meat industry, but choosing from the ever-increasing selection of meat-free options will.”