Marc Bekoff’s article about our latest undercover investigations in pig farms
February 25, 2012
Over the course of 72 days, with 200 hours of footage, Animal Equality recently exposed serious cruelty and neglect at a pig farm called the Harling farm, in Norfolk, UK. The pictures and video are simply unacceptably gruesome. I apologize for including them (and you don’t have to look at them) but there still are people who deny that such treatment actually occurs. It does indeed, and this farm is a typical, medium-sized operation with over 3,000 pigs and 370 breeding pigs, 160 of whom are sent to the slaughterhouse each week.
The reason for this unique undercover investigation was to reveal the true horrors that farmed animals endure each and every day, literally from the day they’re born to the day they die a most disrespectful death. Their journey from the farm to the slaughterhouse is a gruesome one filled with pain, suffering, and terror until they’re freed from being tortured by being killed, often inefficiently.
Animal Equality has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about an industry that exploits animals of various species and show the public that even where quality standards are said to be highest (or, in the case of Harling Farm, “Quality Assured”), deaths and injuries are commonplace and caused by workers who were observed systemically abusing animals and seemingly finding pleasure while they did so.
Pigs are sensitive animals, social by nature and extremely intelligent. Animal Equality found that over the 72 days and from the 300 photographs taken, pigs were treated like mere objects. They were left dying in other pigs’ feed, iron bars were used to move emaciated and lame animals from one area to another and, in one instance, a high-powered rifle was used to shoot a pig in the head, in full view of other pigs. Some of the findings of this investigation include:
- Piglets who had recently been separated from their mothers being thrown several feet through the air by their legs and ears, and kicked hard across the floor.
- Pigs who were reluctant to move being slapped, kicked and beaten into submission with the use of pig boards, iron bars, and gate rods; and workers scraping a knife across the backs of pigs to force them to move.
- Sustained beatings that resulted in pigs with facial and other bodily abrasions. Angry swearing accompanied these beatings. One pig was beaten black and blue and had a bloody snout as a result of being thrashed with a pipe.
- Sick, injured and depilated pigs were left to languish with no veterinary attention. Rectal and vaginal prolapses that were left to rot and drop off so that the animals could be sent to the slaughterhouse. Pigs who had difficulty walking with shoulder sores, injured or infected joints, and hind end paralysis.
The investigator, while acting as a farm worker, expressed a personal take on what he witnessed over the course of 72 days from July to September 2011. He wrote, “I found one of the newly weaned piglets with an ear that had swollen to the size of a football. It was literally the same size as the piglet’s head and was full of liquid. The piglet was in obvious agony but when I mentioned the problem later to Geoff, he said he would have a look at the animal, but nothing was done, and he was left to suffer.”
Nearing the end of the investigator’s time at Harling Farm, he wrote: “Today was my last day and I walked out at lunchtime. The images in my head of this hell-hole will stay with me always. I felt absolutely powerless to stop the pain, suffering, and death.”
Many other similar incidents were recorded and observed by the investigator and, because of the length of time that he worked undercover, Animal Equality views these incidents as being the norm on this farm and others. It is easy to question whether this treatment of animals is ethical and justified when options are at hand in the choices we make. Indeed, no one has to eat pigs.
Animal Equality promotes a vegan lifestyle that does not exploit animals and gives people the chance not to contribute to what occurs in places like Harling Farm. The belief is that if people are made aware of the suffering and pain inflicted on sentient beings, then they will look to other lifestyles. Pigs are one of many types of animal used by industries that produce food for our dinner plates.
The undercover investigations of other organizations have shown time and time again that what was observed at Harling Farm is not an isolated exception, but sadly an ingrained part of what many people believe to be a ‘humane’ way of treating animals. Recently there was a report of pigs being stabbed with swords on a Spanish pig farm to supply Morrisons Supermarket in the UK.
By exposing the abuse and showing standards that are claimed to be monitored and credited by “welfare organizations”, people can see the reality of each and every day for farmed animals. This reprehensible abuse must be stopped now.
Each of us can add more compassion to the world by not eating factory farmed animals and by ending factory farming. This is an indisputable fact so please, let’s begin today. The choice of your next meal can make a difference. No one has to eat bacon, pork, or sausage.