Following Viva’s report earlier this month on the appalling conditions found at Hogwood Farm in Warwickshire, a new undercover investigation has revealed shocking cruelty at another Red Tractor certified farm.
The farm-approval scheme was forced to drop Rosebury Farm in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, last week after an undercover investigation by animal protection organisation Animal Equality UK filmed footage of pigs repeatedly shocked with electric prods, as well as piglets being slammed against a wall to kill them.
While Rosebury had passed five pre-announced inspections over the past year as part of its Red Tractor approval, an unannounced visit to the farm last Wednesday – prompted by the footage obtained by Animal Equality – found several breaches of the scheme’s animal welfare standards.
Just one in 1,000 farms receive unannounced inspections by Red Tractor and therefore breaches of its animal welfare standards are not being discovered by the organisation, despite its claims of a “cast-iron guarantee” of good welfare.
Because Red Tractor has been government-assured, certified farms also receive fewer inspections from government authorities.
It is thought that Hogwood Farm still holds its Red Tractor certification, and is still supplying supermarket giant Tesco. However, it is unclear whether the farm has been subject to an unannounced visit since the undercover footage was made public by Viva! several weeks ago.
Horror at Rosebury:
Scenes filmed by Animal Equality at Rosebury not only show a farm worker swinging tiny piglets by a back leg and smashing their head against the wall but also:
- Piglets screaming in agony as the tips of their tiny teeth are cut without any pain relief (a mutilation that’s meant to be restricted to only ‘extreme circumstances’ under UK law).
- Terrified pigs repeatedly shocked with an electric prod – many in the side and neck – to force them onto the slaughter truck. This also violates UK law.
- A tiny piglet frothing at the mouth lying on a pile of dead piglets, having been thrown there and left for dead hours earlier.
- Dozens of dead piglets littering the floor of the farrowing (birthing) shed.
- Live piglets trapped in crates with dead siblings.
- Pigs crammed into tiny, barren metal pens where they are forced to lie on top of each other in record-breaking high temperatures.
- Other pigs locked inside filthy, wooden bins with lids that leave them in total darkness with no enrichment.
The footage has been denounced as “inhumane handling and killings of piglets,” by veterinary expert, Professor Andrew Knight from the University of Winchester’s Centre for Animal Welfare. He also claims it features, “excessive and inappropriate use of an electric prod likely to cause pain and fear.”
According to the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997, animals should not be lifted or dragged by the head, horns, legs or tail.
Instruments capable of inflicting an electric shock to control an animal are banned, other than as a very last resort in the case of an adult pig refusing to move forward when there is space for them to do so.
Executive Director of Animal Equality UK, Dr Toni Shephard, said:i
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.
She added: 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.