Warning: Graphic content throughout this article.
Two farm workers have been sacked after a film revealed pigs apparently being beaten to death on a free-range farm supplying Morrisons and Tesco supermarkets. Other animals were sick or paralysed, but left untreated, footage appeared to show.
The RSPCA suspended the farm from its Assured scheme after The Independent notified it of the scenes of cruelty.
Secret filming over eight days at the “high-welfare” farm in Norfolk appears to have captured a worker bludgeoning a pig with an iron bar for 23 seconds while the animal screams.
The worker then apparently leaves it alive for nearly two minutes before returning and again attacking it.
Four days later a female worker is filmed also using an iron bar to beat a pig, which is thought to have died as a result.
The footage by Joey Carbstrong, a former gang member-turned-animal activist, as part of a documentary film, called Pignorant, about how the animals are killed in the UK. The video was shot in June last year but has only just emerged.
Using blunt trauma to kill pigs is illegal in England and Wales. Most are killed in controversial carbon dioxide chambers.
A vet, who branded the beatings “illegal and inexcusable”, said the footage also showed other pigs had respiratory disease.
Harford Farm is part of the Norfolk Free Range group, which – just weeks after these scenes were filmed – was given RSPCA Assured endorsement. At the time the farm was supplying food giant Pilgrim’s, and it “finished” pigs for the meat to be sold as “high welfare”.
Waitrose used to be a customer of the farm but severed ties with it four months before the beatings took place.
Tesco did not respond to requests for comment but it’s understood the supermarket giant no longer buys from the farm.
The employees caught attacking the animals were sacked after The Independent alerted the farm and the National Pig Association (NPA) to the video clips.
The footage also showed many of the pigs were unwell or dying, suffering coughing and chronic diarrhoea, according to Mr Carbstrong.
“They were not seen by a vet during the filming, and 104 pigs died over two weeks. Dead pigs were left out to rot for days and cannibalism was common,” he said.
He said he saw and filmed a paralysed pig and numerous animals with large hernias.
Dead pigs that had not been disposed of were scattered throughout the site, he claimed.
In the office was a small poster stating that blunt force trauma is illegal, he added.
Veterinary manager Prof Jill Thomson, of Scotland’s Rural College, said: “To see a pig to beaten to death like that is truly shocking. The pig was paralysed and should have been either taken into hospital accommodation for appropriate care and treatment or humanely euthanised by means of a legal and acceptable procedure appropriate for the size of pig.