A farm worker beats a piglet to death with an iron bar. An injured animal is swung round by its legs, another is kicked in the head. One worker, who watches as a pig writhes in agony, is caught on camera sneering: "Hurry up and die!" These shocking images have emerged from a farm supplying meat to some of Britain's biggest supermarkets.
The undercover film obtained by animal welfare campaigners from
shows pigs suffering several minutes of agonizing seizures and spasms before
they finally die. Pigs are shown being stabbed with knives, kicked and
punched by workers. Injured piglets are seen being tossed around the farm by
their fragile limbs. Many die soon after.
Vets condemned the "callous" cruelty and called for an official investigation. The horrific footage was passed to the Sunday Mirror by cruelty campaigners Animal Equality.
On its website EAP says it adheres to the highest standards in "livestock welfare". But Animal Equality's footage appears to show that two EAP farms may not live up to the standards. An investigator spent 30 days working at the Little Thorns Weaner Unit in Swaffham, Norfolk, and Didlington the Piggery in nearby Thetford. Both farms breed pigs until they are slaughtered at six months old or when they weigh 100kg.
If they fall ill or are not fit to enter the food chain, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs guidelines say they should be humanely killed. But footage from Little Thorn shows a worker killing a pig with an iron bar. Another is seen lifting a sick piglet high above his head before smashing it against a lorry to kill it.
A worker is recorded bragging: "I've killed millions of pigs. Not thousands, millions." At Didlington the scenes are equally disturbing. One worker who finds a piglet struggling to walk smashes it against an iron door. Another randomly stabs at a pig suffering from an abscess.
Vets have called for a probe. Katherine van Ekert, of the Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics, said: "The workers demonstrated a clear disregard to the welfare of some of the animals." Andrew Knight of Oxford Centre of Animal Ethics added: "No reasonable person could fail to be appalled and disgusted by the callous treatment."
The RSPCA sent inspectors to both farms after being passed footage by the Sunday Mirror. A spokesman said: "It raises a number of concerns. We have an urgent meeting planned with EAP, at which we will set out our requirements for changes that need to be implemented. We will also be undertaking unannounced regular meetings at the farms."
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