Animal Aid

Animal Aid's undercover investigators reveal suffering at Bedfordshire pig farms

Posted 26 July 2013
  • Injured sows incarcerated in farrowing crates
  • A dying piglet frothing at the mouth
  • Others gasping for air and coughing
  • Dead pigs and piglets left on the ground
  • Barren units
  • Colony of rats inside feed bin
  • Routine tail-docking
  • An incinerator full of bodies waiting to be burned

Investigators from Animal Aid have found death, disease and injuries inside Bedfordshire pig farms. Filming inside three pig units – Arnoe Farm, Highfields Farm and Twinwood Pig Unit – belonging to Bedfordia Farms Ltd, which is endorsed by the Red Tractor scheme, investigators found injured animals, others wheezing and gasping for breath, a collapsed piglet frothing at the mouth, and pigs with large swellings. At one unit, an incinerator stood full of the decomposing bodies of dead pigs and piglets, waiting to be burned. This is the second time Animal Aid’s investigators have filmed Twinwood Pig Unit, finding standards have not improved since the first visit in September 2012.

All the pigs filmed had been subjected to tail-docking, a practice that is technically illegal if carried out routinely, but allowed if other measures to prevent pen-mates biting each other have failed. Whilst some of the pens had a few chains for the pigs to chew on, these paltry measures to prevent boredom were clearly failing, as evidenced by pigs with bite-marks and torn ears likely caused by fighting.

Bedfordia’s Managing Director is a British Pig Executive (BPEX) board member and ‘industry leader’ Ian Smith. The company’s website states: ‘We are recognised in the top 10% of UK farms in regard to size and performance, as well as for being a pioneer and innovator of new farming methods, and a leader in setting standards for responsible farming practice.’ The Red Tractor scheme states: ‘Red Tractor Farm Assured British pigmeat* is world class. It is produced on farms that are managed by highly professional, well-qualified and caring stockmen.’

Bedfordia describes Arnoe and Highfields Farms as ‘state of the art’ facilities, however this description, along with the Red Tractor claims, are at odds with much of what our investigators captured on camera. This included a colony of rats inside a feed bin, many coughing pigs apparently suffering from respiratory disease, and dead bodies – including the body of a piglet in amongst the afterbirth.

Says Animal Aid campaigner, Ben Martin:

‘The farming industry boasts of high welfare on British farms, but our undercover evidence speaks for itself. Sows incarcerated inside farrowing crates, dying piglets, lists showing the numbers of sick and fallen animals and an incinerator full of the day’s victims: if this is the best of British, it’s not good enough.’

* The Red Tractor Farm Assurance Pigs Scheme ‘sets out to maintain, develop and promote Assurance standards for the benefit of its members within the pigmeat industry. The aim is to provide consumers and retailers with confidence about product quality attributes including food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection.’

Notes to Editors

  • For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ben Martin or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
  • Footage from all three farms can be seen via the links below:
    (i) Arnoe Farm
    (ii) Highfields Farm
    (iii) Twinwood Pig Unit
    (iv) Compilation
  • Screen grabs can be seen and downloaded here – more images are available on request.
  • Please note that our original press release stated that Bedfordia Farms Ltd supplied meat to Sainsbury's and Tesco as this was claimed on the Bedfordia website. This claim has now been removed, but an image of the original Bedfordia webpage can be seen here. Since releasing this information Animal Aid has been contacted by representatives of both Sainsbury's and Tesco who asked us to print the following statements. The Sainsbury's spokesperson said: ‘Sainsbury's does not source from Arnoe Farm, Highfields Farm and Twinwood Pig Unit.’ and the Tesco spokesperson said: ‘Bedfordshire Farms ltd is not a supplier to Tesco and we do not source any pork from Arnoe Farm, Highfields Farm or Twinwood Pig Unit.’

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