APPENDIX ONE | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

APPENDIX ONE

In September and October 2015, Viva! contacted the Animal Health & Plant Agency (AHPA), an executive agency of Defra, to report footage taken at two pig farms that year, and request that the agency carries out its own investigation.

Viva! never received an acknowledgment from the AHPA, but in preparation for the piece that appeared in The Daily Mail journalists were able to confirm that an investigation had been launched into the use of cages at Poplar Farm. Despite offering subsequent help, neither offices have contacted Viva! with their findings.

The two pig farms reported by Viva! were:

  1. Necton Hall (aka Hall Farm Pig Unit), Necton, Swaffham, Norfolk PE37 8HS
  2. Poplar Farm, Rimswell, Withernsea, North Humberside HU19 2BZ

The issues outlined by Viva! to AHPA were as follows:

Cannibalism - Observed at two visits to Necton Hall

Environmental enrichment – The mere legal minimum was observed in pig pens and cages at both Necton Hall (wooden balls) and Poplar Farm (hanging chains and minimal newspaper in farrowing crates). Piglets at Poplar Farm were documented in cages stacked in three tiers. One piglet had apparently dropped through the cage bars and was sitting slouched underneath. Evidence of tail docking was rife on both farms and Viva! questioned what steps the farms had made to enrich the lives of pigs at both farms.

Ill health – Pigs were documented coughing at Necton Hall (which is a sign of ill health), and a pig with a swollen anus was filmed at the same farm.

Dead pigs – Documented in a pen at Necton Hall and dead piglets at both farms.

Impregnation pens – At both farms, Viva! questioned the length of time sows were confined in impregnation pens. The sows could barely move inside these contraptions.

Water source - Viva! questioned whether pigs at Poplar Farm had a sufficient quantity of fresh drinking water.


Letters from Viva! asking the government to investigate the farms

The following letters, along with video and photographic evidence were sent to the appropriate regional office of the AHPA:

Poplar Pig Farm, Withernsea

Dear Animal Health

I am writing to you from Viva! Campaigns to report footage we have been passed of a pig farm outside Hull (Poplar Farm, Rimswell, Withernsea, North Humberside, HU19 2BZ). Because of the potential seriousness of the conditions filmed there over two nights (19 August 2015 and 2 September 2015) we wanted to pass this information to you as soon as we were able.

We are assured that strict biosecurity was observed on both occasions and GPS and/or online map footage (as well as farm signage) was obtained to prove location. Also, we are assured that the footage was obtained by legal means through unlocked doors.

Having looked at the Defra guidelines we are unsure of the legality of two areas within the farm and are asking you to investigate and decide on appropriate action where necessary.

Piglets in cages:

The footage shows weaned piglets kept in small wire group cages that have been stacked three on top of each other in at least two separate rooms. The only ‘environmental enrichment’ observed is a chain hanging down. We are unsure whether such ‘battery cages’ for piglets are currently legal in the United Kingdom.

© Viva!
 

© Viva!

Adding to the concern is the fact that on both occasions piglets were observed on the floor of the rooms. Although it was not filmed, we believe it is reasonable to presume that – due to the decrepit nature of the cages – that piglets had squeezed through gaps in the cages and fallen to the floor. This, obviously, could result in injury and would deny the piglets access to food and water for at least until the piglets were checked on again.

© Viva!

Length of time sows kept in impregnation pens:

The footage taken on the second night shows approximately 25 sows in cages either awaiting or post impregnation (boars were kept in straw barns opposite). It is unclear how long the sows had been here, but the footage was obtained at around 3am. This might suggest that the sows had been left overnight, which may be in contravention of the law and official guidelines. The sows were covered in flies – and an untended fly/larvae infestation was observed in another shed.

© Viva!

“The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 299), Schedule 6, Part II, paragraph 7 (3) lists certain exemptions from the requirement that a pig shall be free to turn round without difficulty at all times, including: - for the purpose of service, artificial insemination or collection of semen; provided that the period during which it is so kept is not longer than necessary for that purpose”.

Defra guidelines: "90: You should keep the sows in their groups until insemination, at which time they can be moved to an appropriate stall or pen and inseminated. Sows should be allowed time to settle down in the stall or pen, and then exposed to a boar in order to encourage the standing reflex before artificial insemination takes place".

"91: Sows should be left undisturbed, to allow uterine contractions, for up to thirty minutes after artificial insemination (and natural service), but they should then rejoin their group in order to minimise bullying within the group hierarchy. When double insemination is used, sows may be penned separately until 30 minutes after the second insemination, but pens must allow the animal to turn round easily".

Water source. It is unclear from the footage if the trough in front of the cages was for drinking water or urine drain-off.  The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 299), Schedule 6, Part II, paragraph 15 states that: “All pigs over two weeks of age must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of fresh drinking water,” and "Livestock must be provided with adequate access to a supply of fresh, clean drinking water".

We believe that all the post-weaned pigs/piglets had been tail docked at the farm. We are aware that this is not meant to be done routinely, but sufficient environmental enrichment should be utilised to negate the need for such mutilations. The footage shows scant environmental enrichment. All that was observed was a small amount of shredded newspaper in the farrowing pens and chains hanging down in the piglet cages and group pens. The boars, however, were kept in pens with straw. The farm claims to keep sows in group housing with straw. This was not observed, but it is possible that this is the case.

Other areas of concern include non-thriving piglets in farrowing pens and a number of dead piglets that had been left for an unknown period of time. Plus fly infestations – including one large cluster of larvae and adult flies in a farrowing unit.

Obviously we wanted to get the footage of the two areas we believed were of most concern off to you as soon as we could. However, if you would like any more information or see any other footage please don’t hesitate to contact me”.

Necton Hall (aka Hall Farm Pig Unit), Swaffham

Dear Animal Health

I am writing to you from Viva! Campaigns to report footage we have obtained of a pig farm outside the village of Necton, Norfolk (Necton Hall, Necton, Swaffham, Norfolk PE37 8HS). Because of the potential seriousness of the conditions filmed there we wanted to pass this information to you as soon as we were able. Footage was taken on the 4 October 2015. We have since been passed footage that was taken in September (4th). Details below.

Strict biosecurity was observed on both occasions and GPS and/or online map footage (as well as farm signage) was obtained to prove location. The footage was obtained by legal means through open and unlocked doors.

© Viva!

© Viva!

Having looked at the law and Defra guidelines we are unsure of the legality of a number of areas within the farm and are asking you to investigate and decide on appropriate action where necessary.

Cannibalism

This was observed on both visits. The footage from the 4th September shows a living pig lying at the back of a pen and another pig chewing on his/her leg. The pig is clearly in pain.

© Viva!
 

© Viva!

On a second visit pigs were observed biting and possibly eating flesh from a large open wound on a dead pig.

© Viva!

Lack of environmental enrichment in some pens

Whilst some of the pens for group housing had a large wooden ball for at least some environmental enrichment, it seems quite arbitrary because other pens in the same building had no environmental enrichment at all.

The Defra Codes say:

“Environmental Enrichment The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 299), Schedule 6, Part II, paragraph 16 states that: To enable proper investigation and manipulation activities, all pigs must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material such as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, mushroom compost, peat or a mixture of such which does not adversely affect the health of the animals.

80 Environmental enrichment provides pigs with the opportunity to root, investigate, chew and play. Straw is an excellent material for environmental enrichment as it can satisfy many of the pigs’ behavioural and physical needs. It provides a fibrous material which the pig can eat; the pig is able to root in and play with long straw; and, when used as bedding, straw can provide the pig with physical and thermal comfort.

81 Objects such as footballs and chains can satisfy some of the pigs’ behavioural needs, but can quickly lose their novelty factor. The long-term use of such items is not, therefore, recommended unless they are used in conjunction with materials such as those listed above, or are changed on a weekly basis”.

Pigs coughing

At several times during the footage pigs can be heard, what sounds like, coughing. This could be an indicator of disease.

Dead pig left to rot in pen

© Viva!

Dead piglets and severed tails left uncollected in aisle of farrowing unit

Whilst we are aware that piglet mortality is a reality on intensive farms, the fact that dead piglets and piglet tails have been left on the floor of open sheds, we believe, shows bad stockmanship – and scant regard for biosecurity (risks attracting flies, rats etc).

Also, as stated above, many of the pens had no or very little environmental enrichment. This appears to contravene the legislation below:

“The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 299), Schedule 6, Part II, paragraphs 21 and 23 (1) state that: 21.The following procedure shall not be carried out routinely but only where there is evidence that injuries to sows’ teats or to other pigs’ ears or tails have occurred: - docking of a part of the tail; but no tail docking may be carried out unless other measures to improve environmental conditions or management systems have been taken in order to prevent tail biting or other vices”

© Viva!

© Viva!

Length of time sows kept in impregnation pens:

The footage taken on the second night shows approximately 20 sows in cages either awaiting or post impregnation (boars were kept opposite). It is unclear how long the sows had been here, but the footage was obtained at around 2.30am. This might suggest that the sows had been left overnight, which may be in contravention of the law and official guidelines.

© Viva!

“The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 299), Schedule 6, Part II, paragraph 7 (3) lists certain exemptions from the requirement that a pig shall be free to turn round without difficulty at all times, including: - for the purpose of service, artificial insemination or collection of semen; provided that the period during which it is so kept is not longer than necessary for that purpose”.

Defra guidelines: "90: You should keep the sows in their groups until insemination, at which time they can be moved to an appropriate stall or pen and inseminated. Sows should be allowed time to settle down in the stall or pen, and then exposed to a boar in order to encourage the standing reflex before artificial insemination takes place".

"91: Sows should be left undisturbed, to allow uterine contractions, for up to thirty minutes after artificial insemination (and natural service), but they should then rejoin their group in order to minimise bullying within the group hierarchy. When double insemination is used, sows may be penned separately until 30 minutes after the second insemination, but pens must allow the animal to turn round easily".

Pig with swollen anus

© Viva!

The animal to the right, as shown in the footage, has what looks like a swollen, red and possibly infected anal region. The footage shows that he appeared to have difficulty moving and could possibly be in pain.

“Sick and Injured Animals The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 1870), Schedule 1, paragraph 5 states that: any animals which appear to be ill or injured - - shall be cared for appropriately without delay; and - where they do not respond to care, veterinary advice shall be obtained as soon as possible”.

Obviously we wanted to get the footage of the two areas we believed were of most concern off to you as soon as we could. However, if you would like any more information or see any other footage please don’t hesitate to contact me”.


Actions taken due to Viva!’s investigations

Poplar Farm: although Animal Health did not respond to Viva!, Morrisons supermarket were shamed by the media coverage Viva! secured and requested that the farm remove the cages. The farm reverted to more standard intensive farming practices. Not a victory, but at least Viva! stopped the piglets being caged.

Necton Hall: Animal Health did not respond to Viva!. This farm was revisited in April 2016. Nothing had changed – other than an alarm being fitted.