You’ve been lied to.
Each day, you are bombarded with messages reassuring you that the UK has the highest welfare standards in the world. Through careful marketing and misleading labels, we are led to believe that farmed animals are well cared for and that eating meat is natural, normal and necessary. It’s time to uncover the truth.
- Viva! has investigated Hogwood pig farm four times from 2017 to 2019. Hogwood was a Red Tractor approved farm, supplying supermarket giant Tesco, and major food producer Cranswick plc, supposedly representing the best of British farming.
- In 2019, Hogwood farm was dropped by Tesco, Cranswick plc and Red Tractor. Despite this landslide victory, it remains the most disturbing and harrowing investigation of them all.
- Each person who has seen the investigation footage had a powerful reaction and so Viva! crowdfunded to produce the documentary, smashing their target and raising over £10,000 in the first 24 hours alone.
- HOGWOOD has already sent ripples throughout the animal agriculture industry. It sparked a nationwide Day of Action where thousands of people came together to protest outside 150 Tesco stores. Over 70,000 people signed a petition urging Tesco to drop Hogwood. It became one of Viva!’s most far-reaching campaigns to date.
- Running at just over 30 minutes long, HOGWOOD takes you beyond the factory farm walls. It is the culmination of months of investigative work by the Viva! team who worked tirelessly to expose the kind of unspeakable cruelty to animals many mistakenly think we have consigned to the history books.
- HOGWOOD is narrated by Jerome Flynn, the Game of Thrones star who shot to fame as one half of Robson and Jerome. He tells the captivating tale of Hogwood, intertwined with interviews with the intrepid Viva! investigators and with expert comment from GP and public health expert Dr Josh Cullimore, pig vet Dr Alice Brough and Oxford University environmental researcher Joseph Poore.
- HOGWOOD is set to launch on March 26 at the Houses of Commons. The launch will be followed by a Q&A with Jerome Flynn, Labour MP Christina Rees, Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, and the producers of the film.
Is Hogwood a typical pig farm?
Is it usual for mother pigs to be inside crates?
Aren't crates illegal?
Are the conditions at Hogwood legal?
Why did Viva! investigate Hogwood?
I want to see more about the investigations
How many pigs are killed for food in the UK?
How old are pigs when they are killed?
- Pigs bred for meat are killed at six months old.
- Mother pigs are killed at three to five years old.
- Breeding boars are killed at three to four years old.
What is the natural lifespan of a pig?
How many animals are killed for food in the UK?
How many animals are factory farmed?
Who owns Red Tractor?
How did Red Tractor, Tesco and the RSPCA respond to Viva!’s Hogwood investigations?
Red Tractor stated that they didn’t find any breaches of animal welfare.
On 21 September 2017, Tesco responded to Viva!’s first investigation by stating that ‘we are satisfied with the conditions, and that the animals are treated well’. They took no action over any of the footage Viva! showed them. Following two years of pressure and two more investigations, on 20 August 2019 Tesco decided that ‘these are distressing and unacceptable scenes [...] fall well below the high animal welfare standards we require from all of our suppliers’. They dropped Hogwood as a pork supplier.
In the Banbury Guardian on 26 June 2017, the RSPCA stated that it was ‘concerned about the welfare’ of the pigs and ‘sadly, in general, the conditions seen in the footage appear to be compliant with legal requirements, which highlights the inadequacy of the law to protect the welfare of pigs’.
Did Viva! notify the government?
What were Hogwood dumping in the woods?
Was there media coverage?
Did Viva! organise protests?
When it became apparent that Red Tractor, Tesco and the government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) were not going to take any action, Viva! launched a nationwide campaign, with protestors outside over 150 Tesco stores. A video van showed the reality of Hogwood’s conditions to Tesco customers, and volunteers and staff informed people of the reality of what was happening inside one of Tesco’s pork suppliers.
Viva! also took to the streets with our FaceOff campaign, asking members of the public to view Hogwood footage. For more information on FaceOff outreach and to see how the public reacted, see here: viva.org.uk/faceoff/pigs/face
When did Tesco, Red Tractor and Cranswick plc drop Hogwood?
Does the use of antibiotics in animals affect humans?
The NHS has reported that antibiotic use in farmed animals threatens human health; by using antibiotics on farmed animals, harmful strains of bacteria can mutate to become resistant to the antibiotics and render them ineffective, not just in farmed animals but also in humans. Bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics are known as superbugs, which worldwide, already result in 700,000 deaths a year.
It is estimated that the number of people who die from antibiotic resistance will be more than the number of people who die from cancer by 2050 (around 10 million per year worldwide) unless urgent action is taken, including a severe restriction on the use of antibiotics in animal farming and a decrease in animal consumption.
Why do farmers use antibiotics if they are harmful to human health?
In farms such as Hogwood, a typical factory farm, the animals are kept in unnatural and unhygienic environments that lead to poor health; many would not reach slaughter weight, or survive long enough to be slaughtered, without the use of antibiotics. They are weaned at a fraction of their natural weaning age, leaving their guts underdeveloped and their immune systems weak. They’re kept in close confinement with no opportunity to separate their living area with their toilet and are fed unnatural diets made up of things like cereals, soya, oils and fishmeal.
The United Nations, and even the industry itself, has described animal farming’s use of antibiotics as a threat to human health. The only guaranteed way of reducing antibiotic use in agriculture is by turning to vegan products.
What diseases are common on UK pig farms?
Are pigs mutilated at Hogwood?
Why do pigs tail bite?
How do you ensure you don’t compromise the biosecurity of a farm?
How do investigators access these farms?
In the UK, trespass is a civil matter and in most cases it’s the only way consumers are able to see inside these places for themselves. Our investigators gain access, without any damage, through gates or doors in order to shine a spotlight in the dark corners of animal agriculture. Most people would agree that entry on to a factory farm to film the conditions of the animals is a justifiable action that is in the public interest.
The footage captured by brave investigators has led to national debate, people changing their eating habits to be less cruel and more environmentally friendly and to policy reforms.
What has happened to the Hogwood pigs?
Cranswick plc, one of the largest UK producers of food, decided to ‘permanently cease accepting any future deliveries from Hogwood farm’, while Tesco dropped their partnership and Red Tractor suspended the farm’s licence after Viva!’s fourth investigation. This has meant that it would be extremely difficult to find any large-scale company who would want to associate with Hogwood.
Viva! does not know the exact situation, but it is likely that Hogwood has decreased the number of pigs it breeds, rears and slaughters as a result of losing these major business partners.
Why hasn’t Hogwood been shut down?
Whilst Viva!’s repeated investigations eventually succeeded in Hogwood being suspended from Red Tractor and dropped by Tesco and Cranswick plc, Hogwood farm is still in operation and has not been shut down.
Although we can continue to put pressure on the APHA to investigate the welfare at Hogwood, we have limited power to shut farms down, which is why we must continue to expose farms like Hogwood to show the public that this is the norm rather than the exception. Consumers can then have a genuine and informed choice over what they buy at the supermarket. Fortunately, many people are now choosing vegan foods.
What is Viva!’s main aim when going into an investigation?
Is pork as bad for your health as other red meats like beef and lamb?
Yes it is. Pork has an image problem. Bacon and ham are processed meats, which the World Health Organisation categorise as a Class 1 carcinogen (i.e. known to cause cancer). A huge body of evidence supports the links between processed meat and bowel cancer and a number of mechanisms suggesting how it does so have been suggested.
Pork medallions or chops for example, are classed as a red meat, which the WHO say probably causes cancer… For this reason, the industry has unsuccessfully tried to reclassify pork as a white meat.
From 1987-2011 the US National Pork Board ran the advertising slogan “Pork. The Other White Meat” in an effort to suggest that pork was healthier than other red meats. However, neither the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) nor the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies pork as a white meat.
More recently, the ‘Love Pork’ campaign from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – a levy board funded by farmers – ran TV ads claiming that pork is just as healthy as chicken. Not a great claim as modern supermarket chickens now contain more fat than protein. The AHDB ads are littered with caveats explaining at the foot of the page in small writing that you have to trim off any visible fat. So pork is low in fat, if you remove the fat!. lovepork.co.uk/pork-and-healthy-eating/
Pork is not a healthy food and there are no studies saying you should eat five sausages a day! For more info see the meat report: vivahealth.org.uk/resources/meat-truth-report
White meat is not the answer either. With every year it’s become a less and less healthy product, with almost eight times as much fat in a kilo of chicken as there was in 1870, less iron, less phosphorus and less omega 3, all as a result of modern methods of breeding and rearing chickens. vivahealth.org.uk/resources/white-meat-myths-guide
How can people help?
As a charity we rely on our fantastic supporters to help fund our work, campaign and run many events. If you would like to get involved, then please sign up to our Street Action Network to get the inside scoop on upcoming events at www.viva.org.uk/streetaction.
If you are a student, please see our dedicated university outreach campaign here: viva.org.uk/university-outreach. You can join at viva.org.uk/join - we’d love you to be a part of Viva! and our work to stop animal cruelty.
We also are only able to act for animals through the generosity of people like you. If you would like to help us carry out more investigations and launch more initiative campaigns to raise awareness about animal farming, please go to viva.org.uk/donate and give what you can.
What environmental problems are caused by animal farming?
I want to go vegan now but how do I begin?
Amazing! So many people say that going vegan is undoubtedly the best decision that they have ever made. We are dedicated to making the transition to veganism as easy as possible and so all our resources are free to use. Try viva.org.uk/easyvegan
Please see veganrecipeclub.org.uk for over 500 tried-and-tested vegan recipes and 30dayvegan.viva.org.uk for free meal plans for 30 days along with tips on the way.
And if you ever have a burning vegan question you can always drop our experts a question at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0117 944 1000 (Mon-Fri, 9-6).
Have We Missed Anything?
You can help!