Horrific footage shows pigs being beaten on a British farm

23 May 2018, 00:50

Shocking undercover footage has emerged showing pigs squealing in pain as they are abused at a farm owned by one of the country's biggest producers.

Campaign group Animal Equality placed hidden cameras at Fir Tree Farm in Lincolnshire, following a tip-off.

The graphic footage shows pigs being kicked in the head repeatedly, hit with gates and jabbed with pitchforks.

One animal appears to be so unwell that it is unable to move. It is loaded into the bucket of a tractor, dumped into a pen and squeals in pain as it is repeatedly hit.

The pig was said to have been left without veterinary attention for 48 hours, at which point it was shot.

The Godfrey family, who own the farm, along with the company Elsham Linc LTD, have now dismissed the members of staff shown in the footage.

They told Sky News: "We are shocked by the actions of those involved as their abhorrent behaviour does not represent our business. We are a family run farm where the care and welfare of our pigs is paramount.

"We have been able to identify the four individuals in the film and following an immediate investigation their employment has been terminated".

Some employees were pictured swearing at the animals, as they joked about the abuse.

The government and the RSPCA are now investigating.

Donald Broom, emeritus professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University, said: "These animals have certainly been caused a substantial amount of pain by several of the actions which we can see in these videos, so they are being directly hurt by the people and this is something that is against the law in the UK.

"We used to be the leader in animal welfare, and in recent years haven't been. We have been one of the countries which is pulling back the rest of the European Union, rather than promoting it."

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has pledged to restore the UK as a leader in animal welfare, but this latest footage has raised questions about where the pigs that make our bacon come from and how they are being treated.

Labelling in shops can often be unclear and only 40% of the meat sold in British supermarkets is produced in this country.

When pork is imported it is very difficult to know how pigs have been treated abroad and whether farmers have upheld high ethical standards.

Helen Browning, who owns an organic pig farm in Wiltshire, insists that consumers need to know more about where their meat is coming from so that customers can make informed choices in supermarkets.

She said: "You can see if something is organic. Ours are organic pigs and you can sometimes see free range or outdoor bred, but actually nothing tells you about perhaps the less attractive side, so nothing will tell you if pigs have been in farrowing crates or kept indoors.

"Most of us buy free range eggs now because it's clearly labelled whether they have been barn reared, they've been in cages or they've been free range. We need the same for pigs."

Co-op is the largest supermarket chain to promise to stop using pork from pigs that have been kept inside their whole life in its own-brand products.

That will come into effect from July and is something that only Waitrose is currently committed to.

The pigs pictured in this latest undercover footage have been kept indoors, like the majority in Britain.

The RSPCA has started its investigation and the National Pig Association insists it does not tolerate or condone any violence or cruelty towards animals, adding it is clear that the actions of the individuals depicted in the footage are indefensible.