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RSPCA Expresses Concerns over Pig Farm Footage

24 April 2012

UK - The RSPCA says it has serious concerns at some of what was shown in the footage featured in the Sunday Mirror on Sunday, 22 April.

According to RSPCA, the footage was taken by Animal Equality at pig farms run by the East Anglian Pig Compay.

The footage has been viewed by both an RSPCA farm animal welfare officer, from our inspectorate, and members of our farm animal science team. It raised a number of concerns, including:

  • poor handling of sows and younger pigs
  • inappropriate methods of culling and poor implementation of culling practices
  • using methods not in line with Pig Veterinary Society guidelines.
RSPCA believes that some of the sick pigs shown in the footage should also have been culled and there was evidence of poor practice when trying to remove an abscess from a sow.

"We are also very concerned that a sick sow appeared to have been left in an open area with twine tied around the jaw, but with no evidence that immediate culling was about to take place. This clearly requires further investigation of the circumstances," the organisation stated.

The RSPCA's farm animal welfare officer visited the premises at Didlington as soon as he was made aware of the footage early on Thursday, 19 April, afternoon. The officer then visited Little Thorns weaner unit the next day.

"We have an urgent meeting planned with the management of the East Anglian Pig Company, at which we will set out our requirements for the changes that need to be implemented with the utmost urgency to address our concerns," RSPCA said.

This includes:

  • the use of appropriate equipment when handling and culling pigs, together with effective training for staff in these crucial aspects of animal welfare,
  • a plan showing how on-going assessment of adherence to and effectiveness of these measures will be undertaken.

RSPCA says that it will also be undertaking unannounced regular meetings at the farms and with the company to ensure these are implemented.

The organisation would also like to stress that the footage has only now been made available via the media, despite being taken more than four months ago by Animal Equality.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “Further enquires have revealed that some of the footage is thought to include pigs under the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme.

“In the light of this development Freedom Food has immediately suspended The Little Thorns unit from the scheme while investigations continue.”

Freedom Food in a released statement said, "Any animal welfare failures by Freedom Food members are totally unacceptable and are taken very seriously.

"The footage that was given to us on Friday (21 April) largely contained images from Didlington - a farm not approved by Freedom Food.

"However, on further investigation of the footage, we became aware of totally unacceptable welfare practices on Little Thorns Farm – which is Freedom Food approved. The farm has now been suspended from the scheme, pending a full investigation.

"From time to time, individual members can let us down – but these are very rare cases. We will always take swift action when such breaches are brought to our attention.

"We must stress that this footage was taken in January and has only now been made available to us via the media, despite being taken more than four months ago by Animal Equality. This greatly concerns Freedom Food and the RSPCA. It is vital that if anybody or any organisation has information relating to breaches of animal welfare that they inform us immediately, otherwise they could potentially be allowing continued suffering."

ThePigSite News Desk



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