8 York Court
Bristol BS2 8QH
Tel: 0117 944 1000
Fax: 0117 924 4646
These notes refer to the
Viva! video showing the conditions in which pigs live in 18
British pig units.
Viva! filmed 18 pig farms in the following 11 counties:
Cornwall, Devon, E
Sussex, Humberside, Kent, Merseyside, Northants, Oxon,
Somerset, Suffolk, Worcs
None of the units shown were
specially chosen to show poor animal welfare standards. They
were selected simply because we were able to walk inside
without forcing entry and film them. There is nothing
exceptional about these farms and they fairly reflect
standards throughout the industry as a whole. That must be
so because the complaints Viva! has registered against
several of them with various Government departments have all
been dismissed. Much of what you see in this footage is
legal (though in Viva!’s opinion, not all). The
recommendations governing farm animal welfare are so loosely
drawn that it would be difficult to break the law! However,
legal or not, we believe that what is shown in this footage
is widespread, institutionalised animal cruelty.
The pig industry divides pigs into breeding stock and
fattening stock. The fattening stock are reared for meat. In
the region of 99% of all UK fattening pigs are industrially
farmed. Therefore, almost all of the pig meat on sale is a
product of intensive, factory farming. The amount of free
range meat is so small that the Meat and Livestock
Commission cannot provide figures for it. The animals which
are reared outdoors are almost exclusively breeding sows -
about 30 per cent of all breeding sows (however, their
piglets are taken to factory farms). The remaining 70 per
cent are reared indoors in severely restricted intensive
Almost 80 per cent of all sows are forced to give birth in
farrowing crates - metal-barred contraptions which hold them
captive for up to 28 days at a time, preventing them from
even turning around. The frustration caused by these cruel
devices can lead to the mental collapse of highly
Almost all piglets are removed from their mothers at just
three weeks old - before they can digest solid foods - and
are reared in indoor, intensive units where they live until
slaughter at five or six months old. They are given drugs
throughout their life.
This is the true face of pig farming in the UK today and the
scenes in this video have to be set against the rhetoric of
the farming and meat industries - and that of the Government
The video opens with scenes of how pigs would naturally live
- if they had the opportunity. They have highly developed
senses of smell, touch and taste. They see in colour, dream
and can walk as much as 15 kilometres in a day. Play is
essential to their development.
Unit 1 - Rynehill Farm,
Scene 1. Is of ‘grower’ pigs in a concrete enclosure. They
have a covered, indoor sleeping area and a wooden-slatted,
outdoor dunging area with swill troughs. The pigs are wet
and covered from head to toe in filth - their own excreta.
Excreta has pooled on the slats and the sleeping area is
concrete, devoid of all bedding and also wet with
Scene 2. This shows an entirely indoor pen of what appears
to be ‘fattening’ pigs. There is little daylight (although
it is sunny outside), no sign of bedding and the space
appears to be filthy and so restricted that the animals have
enough room to lie down but little else. There is no
environmental enrichment, no straw, no outdoor access and
nothing to do.
Scene 3. The farm is revisited three months later and
nothing appears to have changed. Paperwork shows that the
farmer is contracted to Thames Valley Pigs, one of the UK’s
biggest producers, and the resulting meat carries the
quality assurance stamp Farm Assured British Pigs.
Unit 2 - Newham Farm,
Scene 1. Opens at night with a dead pig in the water-soaked
Scene 2. Returning in daylight, the dead pig can be clearly
seen in a yard which looks like a junk yard. In a nearby
field, a shallow scrape out of the soil has been used as a
dump for other dead pigs - about a dozen in all - in various
stages of decomposition.
Scene 3. A large windowless barn provides housing for pigs
of all ages on two levels. Although bright daylight outside,
so little light penetrates the building that illumination is
dependent entirely upon the camera lights. Stocking
densities are high but there is no sign of bedding.
Scene 4. Old sow stalls are shown. Although the restraining
devices which held the sows captive have been removed,
little else appears to have changed. Space for the animals
outside of the stalls is limited and no bedding is
Scene 5. Farrowing crates are shown with heavily pregnant
sows about to give birth directly into their own excreta. In
other pens, several dead and decaying piglets are shown
still in the pens with their living siblings and mother.
The footage was shown to an independent vet with 27 years
experience of pigs. His opinion was : “The overall
impression is of squalor, degradation, neglect, bad hygiene
and bad animal welfare”. We lodged a complaint with eight
different bodies, including the Health and Safety Executive,
Trading Standards, State Veterinary Service and Farm Animal
Welfare Minister, Elliot Morley. He and all the others
dismissed the complaints.
Scene 6. We return to the farm 12 months later to record any
changes in conditions. The opening scene is of a sow held
captive in a farrowing crate. She is - literally - smothered
in flies and haemorrhaging badly from her vulva into the
pen. The blood is caked on her hind quarters and newly-born
piglets suckle alongside the large pool of blood. We
complained to Trading Standards Animal Health Officer but
the outcome was ‘confidential’.
Scene 7. We show one source of the fly infestation - a large
bin filled with rotting dead piglets amid a sea of writhing
Scene 8. We return to an indoor shed to show piglets in
darkened, filthy and barren pens, devoid of all bedding.
They are heavily soiled with faeces. In one pen, two dead
piglets have been left in with their living siblings. A
large dead pig litters the gangway alongside a foraging rat.
A top shot of grower pigs again shows, dark, barren and
dirty pens stocked to very high densities.
Unit 3 - Porthbean
Farm, Coverack, Cornwall
Scene 1. Exterior shot of semi-dilapidated pens, part
covered and part open.
Scene 2. A pen with wooden slatted floor presenting an image
of filth and wetness. One pig has a distended stomach
Scene 3. A pen awash with what appears to be water and
excrement. All animals are dirty. There is no sign of dry
lying areas nor bedding materials.
Scene 4. Farrowing crates showing an imprisoned mother with
a sore and inflamed stomach, with piglets scrambling over
her to suckle. One has an inflamed and closed eye. Another
is incapable of walking and shuffles along - clearly not a
viable piglet but left with the herd.
Scene 5. Three piglets in a barren pen, one of which is
little more than skin and bone. It appears to be not far
from death and is in a pitiful state.
Scene 6. Grime-caked containers holding used hypodermics and
We lodged a complaint against this farm with the State
Veterinary Service but the outcome was ‘confidential’.
Scene 7. We return to the farm six months later to film any
possible changes in the conditions. In a mud-plastered yard,
dead pigs have been abandoned and have started to decay.
Unit 4 - Grange Farm,
Scene 1. Shows similar conditions to many other intensive
factory farms but in this instance, the pig man in charge
informed Viva! that the farm had RSPCA Freedom Food
approval. We have no means of checking this as membership of
the Freedom Food scheme is a closely-guarded secret. No list
of approved farms is issued to the public nor to the
trustees of the RSPCA itself.
Grower pigs are covered with their own excreta and live in
barren pens devoid of all environmental enrichment. The
internal bedding area once contained a small amount of straw
but it appears to have been trampled into a sodden mass and
no longer seems to provide a dry lying area.
Unit 5 - Mear Farm,
Another RSPCA Freedom Food unit - only this time we were
able to confirm it. Gangways are thick with mud and water
and the animals - all of which are dirty - are kept in
barren metal pens with the flooring awash with water and
excreta. Food hoppers are entirely empty and there is no
sign of a dry lying area.
Our complaints to the RSPCA and Government about the
conditions at this farm were dismissed. Eventually the farm
was closed but not through any action of the RSPCA.
Unit 6 - Somerset Pig Farm
Footage opens with a series of shots inside a farrowing
unit. Several sows are confined in the crates -
metalled-barred prisons - none of whom appear to have any
bedding. Dead piglets litter the gangway.
Piglets are shown in large metal bins held inside a
Footage of pregnant sows reveals what was once a shed full
of sow stalls. Having now been made illegal, all that seems
to have changed is that the backs of the stall have been
removed to allow the sows a little more freedom - very
little! The sows have to still lie in the stalls because
there is insufficient space. It is a filthy area of concrete
floors, dirt and no bedding.
Unit 7 - Edney’s Farm,
Further footage of farrowing crates reveals a closed shed
and almost impenetrable darkness (it is light outside). Sows
lie behind iron bars on solid concrete floors with no
bedding of any kind. Excreta piles up behind them as they
lie immobilised. Their piglets try to suckle with no bedding
Footage of weaners shows what is rapidly becoming the
industry standard - flat deck systems. Here, piglets just a
few weeks old live on perforated metal floors - no bedding,
no enrichment, nothing to do and not even a separate bedding
area. There is not a strand of straw in sight. The
conditions in which grower pigs - the next stage in the
cycle - are, if anything, even more depressing. Crowded,
darkened, barren pens with nothing to interest them and no
ability to fulfil their natural instincts.
A dead pig has been abandoned in the gangway.
Unit 8 - Church Farm,
The scene opens on what appears to be a near-derelict farm
yard and cuts to pregnant sows in a tiny, filthy concrete
pen - again no sign of bedding or a separate dry lying
It cuts to the interior of a farrowing shed in almost total
darkness, illuminated only by the camera lights. Rows of
sows are help captive in metal stalls. In one stall, two
new-born piglets shiver uncontrollably. One sow repeatedly
bites the bars of her stall in a repeated motion.
This is stereotypic behaviour - a sign of mental
Unit 9 - Woodside Farm,
Again, barren pens and darkness. Concrete pens have small,
barred open areas which are probably meant to be for
dunging. However, all are awash with a filthy black liquid
in which the pigs have to stand. Our investigators said it
was not rainwater but stinking slurry from an overflowing
lagoon. The animals are covered in filth. Our complaint to
the government was dismissed and months later nothing had
Unit 10 - Blagdon Farm,
Hartland Point, Devon
The scene opens with filthy pigs in a concrete enclosure and
cuts to an animal with swollen testicles. In one small area
there are three pigs who are in severe difficulties and
incapable of walking. Amongst the filthy animals is one with
a grossly distended rupture. Some straw is provided but it
is hardly generous.
Unit 11 - Devon
Another barren pen crowded with filthy animals - no bedding
and no enrichment. These are swill pigs and liquid fed -
boiled up kitchen waste is fed automatically into the pens.
The pigs sensitive snouts, designed for rooting, are
rendered redundant. The animals are all excessively filthy
and the pens are wet, covered in excreta and offer no
comfort of any kind - not even a dry lying area. A lame pig
is left with the main herd.
Unit 12 - Appledown
Farm, Kingsdown, Kent
More animals covered in filth - almost certainly excreta.
Again our complaint to the Government was dismissed.
Unit 13 - Somerset
Crowded grower pigs on a barren, wooden-slatted floor. One
animal has a raw and bloodied ear, almost certainly the
result of having been bitten by its colleagues. They
continue to worry at the wound.
In almost total darkness, sows have been left to farrow onto
a floor deep in excreta. The new born piglets share their
cell with other sows waiting to give birth and are clearly
at risk in these conditions.
Unit 14 - Pig
Improvement Company, near Hull, Humberside
Despite being one of the country’s biggest producers,
production methods are the same as elsewhere - metal-barred
farrowing crates and an absence of bedding.
Unit 15 - Pig
Improvement Company, Honeybourne, Worcs
Again the industry standard - crowded flat-deck systems with
no bedding, nothing to interest the little animals and no
ability to fulfil even the most basic natural instincts.
Unit 16 - Somerset
More rows of flat-deck systems but with a seriously ill pig
abandoned in the gangway to die.
Unit 17 - Heyfield
Farm, Ditchling, E. Sussex
More filthy pigs covered in excreta.
Unit 18 - Midland Pig
Producers, Downholland, Merseyside
Another big producer and again the flat-deck system - barren
pens with perforated metal floors.
For a copy of Viva!’s Pig In Hell video, photos, report or
further information please contact:
Viva!, 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH
Tel: 0117 944 1000