Scenes of animal violence and neglect have been filmed on a Red Tractor certified pig farm in Bedfordshire by animal welfare campaigners, Animal Equality.
The campaigners released the footage captured from the farm today (30 July) which was secretly filmed over the past three months.
The footage includes a worker swinging piglets by their back legs, hitting their heads against a wall and the tips of piglets’ teeth being clipped without pain relief. Pigs are also shown to be shocked with an electric prod before being put on a slaughter truck.
The footage also documented dead piglets on the floor of the farm’s birthing shed as well as larger pigs being crammed into metal pens, while others were locked in wooden bins. Rosebury Farm in Dunstable is the sixth Red Tractor approved pig farm that Animal Equality has exposed animal suffering at in under a year.
The farm is known to supply Cheale Meats in Essex which provides pork to major UK wholesalers, as well as supplying a traditional butchers in Bedfordshire by the name of Evans and Sons.
Veterinary expert Professor Andrew Knight said the footage showed “inhumane handling and killing of piglets” as well as “excessive and inappropriate use of an electric prod likely to cause pain and fear.” After receiving the evidence from Animal Equality, Red Tractor withdrew the farm’s assurance certification. The RSPCA has also been informed.
Michael Thorne, who runs Rosebury Farm, told The Times: “I apologise for my actions and accept that there were shortcomings in the way that I managed the farm. The pigs have been my livelihood for the last 25 years so their welfare is of utmost importance to me.
“In future, I will ensure that all staff including myself have the latest training and resource to be able to manage the farm in a way that the public would expect.”
Red Tractor released a statement which said: “While we appreciate that the images in The Times newspaper may be very distressing, the health and welfare of animals is crucial to Red Tractor and our shoppers. Sadly, some animals on livestock farms become too ill to treat. In these emergencies and to avoid unnecessary pain or suffering, farmers using an internationally recognised method and having been trained by their vet are permitted by law to humanely ‘dispatch’ such casualty animals. This is in line with all other assurance schemes including the RSPCA.
“In common with many facets of life the Red Tractor scheme is only as strong as its weakest link. To maximise its effectiveness we undertake 60,000 inspections each year that we believe to be robust. On occasions a small minority of farmers may breach the rules and by doing so are cheating the system that is designed to re-assure the public. This behaviour will not be tolerated by Red Tractor and those discovered are removed from the scheme as was the case with Rosebury Farm.
“Red Tractor work to ensure the highest standards are maintained and the British public can be confident that the vast majority of our farmers are proud of the work they do, producing great food for us all to enjoy.”
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