“Pigs are forced to live in dirty, damp and bare concrete pens, completely covered in their own urine and excrement without respite. They are naturally extremely hygienic animals, and these cramped, dirty and minimally enriched conditions undoubtedly cause physiological and psychological damage.
“Stress induced by such an environment and lack of proper care appear to contribute to the presence of disease on the farm, with associated mortality evidenced by full ‘dead bins’ and vice behaviors such as tail biting and cannibalism.
She added: “The level of regard shown for the pigs by farm staff is deeply concerning, and it is evident that issues are not being dealt with quickly and appropriately, resulting in prolonged and entirely avoidable suffering.
Claire Palmer, the founder of Animal Justice Project, said: “Unfortunately, in this case, the cameras don’t lie. Our images capture the grim reality of pigs on modern farms in Britain as pork sales continue to rise.
“Consumers are promised the world when it comes to their food choices, with Red Tractor, which includes 95% of UK pigs under its label, offering public-pleasing assurances and lofty welfare claims, and supermarket policies corporate responsibility.”
She added: “On Bickmarsh Hall farm, the pigs lived in filth and excrement, left to suffer and confined to concrete cells. Consumers must now ask themselves, is a bacon sandwich or a pork pot pie really worth it? »
Peter Egan said: “While I witnessed many harrowing scenes of animal cruelty, I found the video taken at Bickmarsh Hall Farm particularly heartbreaking.
“To see such intelligent and sensitive animals being so horribly abused, kicked, punched, left for dead, living in filth and incarcerated in cages, reveals a ruthless industry that is leaving a severe mark on humanity.”
The Animal Justice Project says the offenses “are among the worst” seen by its experienced staff. But they fear the UK’s rise in the number of mega-farms, which have thousands of animals cared for by fewer staff, could lead to deteriorating welfare conditions.
Bedding is not required for all pigs in the Red Tractor program. Bickmarsh enclosures contained no bedding or comforts, only hard slats. Many were filthy, with thick droppings covering the pigs. The animals have been documented biting and fighting – with just five feeders for around 25 pigs.
Almost 11 million pigs were killed in 2021 by the UK farming industry. The number of animals slaughtered continues to rise even as veganism becomes an increasingly popular food choice.
Cranswick Country Foods said the “highest standards of animal welfare” are applied “throughout the supply chain” and all of its UK producers are “independently audited”. He carried out an unannounced audit of Bickmarsh Hall after seeing the footage and said the “unit was performing to required standards”.
A Tesco spokesman told the The environmentalist: “We take any allegation of this nature very seriously and are urgently investigating this footage with our supplier.
“We require all of our suppliers to meet high animal welfare standards – all of our pigs are raised to recognized agricultural assurance standards such as Red Tractor, RSPCA Assured as well as our own Tesco Welfare Approved standard which exceeds government-approved industry welfare standards. ”
The environmentalist asked Red Tractor, Cranswick Country Foods, Tesco and Sainsbury’s for comment.
Brendan Montague is the editor of The environmentalist. This article is based on a press release from the Animal Justice Project.