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Starving pigs forced to eat each other while sows writhe in pain at farm known for high animal health standards

The farm produces meat carrying the Red Tractor logo meaning it's 'traceable, safe to eat and has been produced responsibly'
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Shocking images of neglect surfaced at a pig farm reportedly known to abide by the highest standards of animal welfare. Pigs were filmed writhing in pain and being brutally killed at the farm, which produces meat carrying the Red Tractor logo meaning it's "traceable, safe to eat and has been produced responsibly," the Daily Mail reported.

Cameras were planted at Flat House Farm in Lutterworth, Leicestershire between March and July this year as part of an undercover investigation by animal welfare group 'Viva!'. Disturbing footage shows pig carcasses left to decay while being eaten by surviving hogs. Meanwhile, lame sows are seen writhing in agony and feral cats gnawing at the corpses.

Piglets were seen in footage being brutally killed by workers at the farm. The video also showed starving and diseased animals which is deemed a risk to human health and could allow novel diseases to spread. You can see photos here. "We are appalled by the images, protecting animal health and welfare is one of our top priorities," the Red Tractor organization, the biggest food quality assurance scheme, said in a statement. "As of last night, the Red Tractor Certification was suspended with immediate effect."

"Viva!’s investigation contains some of the most disturbing images I have ever seen," said Henry Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley and co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for animal welfare. "It is clear the animals on this farm are suffering. If this is the Red Tractor standard, then consumers are being misled. We cannot allow farms like this to operate."

Meanwhile, Viva!’s Juliet Gellatley recounted how the team "witnessed appalling conditions, documenting the systematic abuse of farmed pigs, whose short lives are filled with nothing but misery and pain." She added, "not only do factory farms raise serious welfare concerns, they also create an ideal environment for mutating viruses and antibiotic-resistant superbugs."

But the Elvidge Farms Ltd-owned Flat House Farm denied any wrongdoing. "We have done nothing wrong. The RSPCA were happy with their spot check and that there was no case to answer upon completion of their inspection," a farm source told the Daily Mail, rebuffing the video as falsified and calling the allegations fake.

An RSPCA spokesman responded by saying it had "looked into this and this incident has been referred to Trading Standards to investigate." Earlier this year, we reported how pig farmers in the US bemoaned they would have to euthanize more than 10 million hogs by mid-September to avoid overcrowding as meat processing plants were shut amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In May, the National Pork Producers Council revealed that about 170,000 pigs per day couldn't be sent to plants and there wasn't enough space to accommodate them at the farms. At the time, the trade organization said the decision to euthanize as many as 10 million pigs in the coming months was "the only humane option" considering the animals grew large very quickly in confined spaces and could become aggressive to each other.

Meanwhile, several disturbing photos of thousands of dead pigs euthanized at the JBS USA processing plant in Minnesota surfaced after it was shut down owing to employees testing positive for coronavirus.