NEW HORROR AT HOGWOOD
Cannibalism on Tesco-Approved Pig Farm
You probably remember the Hogwood pigs from almost exactly a year ago. On a summer evening, I filmed undercover on a ‘farm’ in Oxhill, Warwickshire, which was a huge industrial complex. As I began, my heart sank at what I witnessed.
I recorded severe overcrowding, pigs covered in excreta, barren, filthy conditions, animals abandoned to die, cannibalism of corpses left to rot amongst the living and decaying piglets were engulfed in a sea of writhing maggots. Shortly after the Sunday Mirror published our exposé, we received a tip off that the farm was dumping dead animals in nearby woods. Together with Viva! supporters, I investigated and discovered piles of pig bones in a grisly woodland graveyard – eartags, skulls and other remnants of these beautiful animals were discarded like trash on land registered to Hogwood Farm.
We then found that this skank hole supplies Tesco! In a wave of support, people across Britain joined with us to ask Tesco to dump Hogwood. But Tesco dug in their heels, saying: ‘We work with our suppliers to improve their standards.’ Red Tractor assurance dismissed our footage saying that there was nothing wrong with Hogwood and the government, as usual, did nothing.
Since our investigation, Hogwood has been surrounded with high fencing, barbed wire, CCTV and alarms, making re-entry – let’s say – challenging! However, following another tip off we decided we had no choice but to risk it as we could not bear to think of Hogwood pigs still suffering.
A reminder of the suffering we uncovered in June, 2017
In the farrowing sheds, a mother was giving birth and her face was one of the most upsetting sights I’ve ever seen. Sometimes, I look back at that picture of her expression – the hopelessness of a mother giving birth in a metal crate on to cold, unforgiving concrete.
In the ‘fattening’ shed, pigs were crammed in to concrete cells with slatted wooden gangways. Someone had cynically added a plastic-covered chain for them to bite but it hung there limply, its novelty value long gone. This is ‘environmental enrichment’! No straw, no bedding, just harsh, soiled floors, concrete walls and a life filled with utter boredom, frustration and no outlet for those active, intelligent, inquisitive minds.
Contrast this to Hope and her babies, Lily Bubbles and Jack Wigglinson, who I was visiting only days before this exposé. They zoomed towards me, happy, joyous and playful. I kissed their ears, their snouts, rubbed their bellies (of course!) while they gently grunted - a grunt of complete contentment. It makes me laugh when they start grazing the grass whilst being stroked, like you sipping wine and nibbling chocolates while being massaged – what a lovely life!
Nothing like that for these pigs. In the next cell block, to my horror, lay an ill pig slumped against the wall seeming to have lost the will to live. A little piglet had some neurological disease and walked oddly sideways but nipped at the camera – at last something to play with. Four other sick animals had clearly been abandoned in the gangway. We had already seen a pile of dead bodies dragged outside and left with no evidence of having been shot. Perhaps they had simply been left to starve to death and the dejected animals in front of us would face a similar fate. There was no proof but it was my suspicion. What I do know is that I was seeing the embodiment of hell.
A year on and has anything changed?
Viva! investigators walked with trepidation into the same shed. Down the same corridor. Opened the same door.
In a gangway lay about 10 pigs. They had been left with no access to anything but each other - no water, no food, no bedding. The one nearest to us had half an ear missing but as we knelt to record the bite marks, a bloodied snout appeared out of the huddle.
My colleague noticed unusual movement further down the walkway and knew something was wrong and hurried to investigate. And then we saw her. Beneath what seemed like a mass of pig bodies lay a blood bath.
One little piglet at the bottom of the heap was visibly shaking – she was being eaten alive! Her hind legs were injured and bloodied and the blood was smeared over walls and floor. Other pigs were biting at the exposed flesh. It must have been excruciatingly painful and the look on her face will live with us forever. She was making no effort to escape – there was nowhere for her to go – and so all we could see was her absolute and total dejection and pain. It was mortifying – something none of us ever want to see again.
The piglets around her looked as though they were going mad. They had no food or water when we filmed and, in their desperation, had turned on each other. Cannibalism is exceptionally rare in the wild.
One investigator said: “My stomach began to churn as I watched the three pigs surrounding her, each in turn, pull at her legs with their teeth, her flesh bitten from the bone, the blood pulsating onto the wooden slats beneath her. I was mortified. We needed to get out and we needed to report this! And so we left, horrified and heart-broken.”
In the farrowing sheds, everything was much the same, with mothers still giving birth in the most horrific conditions – row after row imprisoned in crates with not even a strand of straw for comfort, barely able to move, prevented from even turning around for four weeks at a time.
One, who was heavily pregnant and so had only recently been placed in the crate, pushed desperately at a loose bar, looking for a way to escape, perhaps knowing what the next four weeks would hold for her. It was truly heart-breaking. She probably knew that after birth in this cruel contraption she could not be a mother to her babies, not nuzzle or nurture them, would not be able to comfort or reassure them. She would be a milk provider and nothing more.
In another crate we saw one ill baby, struggling and shivering while another had already died, his little body a sad, pathetic embodiment of a society that turns a blind eye to the suffering of animals killed for meat.
I made the decision that rather than leave unnoticed, we needed to call a vet, the RSPCA and the police. We did all three. But the sad story does not end here. At first the RSPCA did not want to be involved and it was very difficult to find a local vet who would come to the scene. However, at 5am, the police and an RSPCA vet did arrive. They would not allow us to take them straight to the pig being eaten alive, who desperately needed someone to intervene. Two hours later they came back outside the farm and to our utter disbelief said they still had not treated the poor animal - not even taken her to safety or tended to her leg. The vet declared she wasn’t a pig specialist and so would call another vet! How much of a specialist do you need to be to treat a gaping wound?
Sickened to the core, we returned to Viva! and called the government vets to make an official complaint – just as we did a year ago. We called Tesco to ask them if Hogwood still supplies them, they confirmed that they do. What should make everyone angry is the fact that Tesco claim the conditions inside the dreadful Hogwood horror farm are acceptable. What are your views?
Please, please help us bring the plight of Hogwood pigs to the nation. With your support, we have to do all we can to expose this farm. We want to see it closed, at the very least for Tesco to stop using them and, of course, to show the public the grim reality of factory farming to help them on their way to going vegan.
Tell your friends and family about Hogwood. Stress that this is not some small, aberrant farm but a large unit supplying Tesco. Donate to our campaign and Week of Action. And join in if you possibly can. We need you to help us put the pressure on. Please sign the petition so we can add your voice to our call to Tesco to shun Hogwood Horror farm. Let’s get justice for these animals.
Thank you for all your amazing support.
For the pigs at Hogwood and all farmed animals
Founder & Director
We’re urging Tesco to drop this horror farm and we need your support to keep up the momentum. The more support we have, the more pressure we can apply. We’re campaigning to end this cruelty. Please donate today