“Pigs are forced to live in filthy, wet, bare concrete pens, completely covered in their very own urine and faeces with no respite. These are naturally extremely hygienic animals, and these cramped, dirty and really poorly enriched conditions are undoubtedly causing each physiological and psychological damage.
“The stress induced by such an environment and lack of appropriate care appears to be contributing to the presence of disease on farm, with associated mortality evidenced by full ‘dead bins’, and vice behaviours like tail biting and cannibalism.
She added: “The extent of consideration shown for the pigs by farm staff is deeply concerning, and it is clear that problems are usually not promptly and appropriately handled, resulting in prolonged and fully avoidable suffering.”
Claire Palmer, the founding father of the Animal Justice Project, said: “Sadly, on this case, cameras don’t lie. Our footage captures the grim reality for pigs on modern-day farms in Britain as pork sales proceed to rise.
“Consumers are promised the world in relation to their food selections, with Red Tractor, which incorporates 95 per cent of UK pigs under its label, offering public-pleasing assurances and high welfare claims, and company responsibility supermarket policies.”
She added: “On Bickmarsh Hall farm, pigs were living in filth and faeces, left to suffer, and confined inside concrete cells. Consumers must now be asking themselves, is a bacon sandwich or pork pie really value that?”
Peter Egan said: “Despite having witnessed many harrowing scenes of animal cruelty, I’ve found the video taken at Bickmarsh Hall farm particularly heart-breaking.
“To see such intelligent and sensitive animals being so horrifically abused, from being hit, kicked, left to die, living in filth, and incarcerated in cages, reveals a callous industry that leaves a grave mark on humanity.”
The Animal Justice Project claims the infractions “are a number of the worst” witnessed by its experienced staff. But they’re concerned that the rise within the UK within the variety of megafarms, which have 1000’s of animals being taken care of by fewer staff, will lead to worsening welfare conditions.
Bedding is not required for all pigs under the Red Tractor scheme. Pens at Bickmarsh contained no bedding or comfort, but only hard slats. Many were filthy, with thick excrement covering the pigs. The animals were documented biting and fighting one another – with only five feed troughs for about 25 pigs.
There have been almost 11 million pigs killed in 2021 by the UK agriculture industry. The variety of animals being slaughtered continues to extend at the same time as veganism becomes an increasingly popular dietary selection.
Cranswick Country Foods has stated that the “highest standards of animal welfare” are used “throughout the availability chain” and that each one its UK producers are “independently audited”. It made an unannounced audit of Bickmarsh Hall after seeing the footage and declared that “the unit was found to be operating to the required standard.”
A Tesco spokesperson told the The Ecologist: “We take any allegations of this nature extremely seriously and are urgently investigating this footage with our supplier.
“We require all of our suppliers to uphold high animal welfare standards – all of our pigs are reared to recognised farm assurance standards comparable to Red Tractor, RSPCA Assured in addition to our own Tesco Welfare Approved standard which exceeds Government-approved industry welfare standards.”
The Ecologist has asked for comment from Red Tractor, Cranswick Country Foods, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This text is predicated on a press release from the Animal Justice Project.