Bedford public urged to join national UK charity and ‘face off’ to the region’s pig farming industry
- Viva! takes undercover investigation to streets of Bedford
- Farms including Twinwoods and Highfield show sick and dying animals in cramped conditions with no real enrichment
- National campaign reveals 90 per cent of UK pigs kept in ‘horrific’ conditions
People in Bedford are being called on to join one of the UK’s leading animal welfare charities and take the ‘Face Off Challenge’, which confronts the realities of the region’s pig farming.
As the popularity of meat reduction, vegetarianism and veganism spreads across the UK, the team from Viva! took a film camera into an average Bedford pig farm to help people who consume meat to understand the horrors farmed animals are living in.
The farms include Twinwoods Farm and Highfield Farm, both of which are operated by well-known supermarket supplier Bedfordia Farms http://www.bedfordia.co.uk/agriculture/livestock.asp.
The Viva! team will be showing the film to the Bedford public on Tuesday May 24, 2016 between 12pm-3pm on Midland Road (MK40 1PL).
The footage shows a pig with a protruding hernia being attacked by others, cramped conditions and no enrichment apart from a hanging piece of metal in many areas of the Highfield site.
The Viva! team reported its findings to local Animal Health officials but are yet to receive a response.
A private Youtube link shows footage from the investigation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SOHD1_v_AQ
Pigs are proven to be sensitive and intelligent animals yet are farmed in these kinds of conditions in order to produce 90 per cent of the country’s pig meat. Even more shocking is that the animals being shown in the film are being kept in completely legal conditions under UK Government and EU-set welfare standards.
The campaign, which is on a UK tour, started with an undercover investigation carried out by the charity’s CEO Juliet Gellatley who went on camera in a farm in Norfolk. You can see her film here: http://www.viva.org.uk/faceoff
Even with more than 30 years’ experience campaigning on animal issues, Juliet finds some of what she sees hard to take but with already more than 700,000 people having watched the film and taken the Face Off Challenge, the UK is waking up to the suffering involved in just an average bacon sandwich.
Now they are calling on the people of Bedford to take the challenge and help them chose a kinder diet.
Juliet said: “Many people are coming to the realisation that farming animals in these conditions simply to be killed and made into food is cruel and unsustainable.
“Pork consumption is in particular under the spotlight as processed meats such as sausages and bacon are now directly linked to a variety of cancers.
“While some may argue that the standards of farming must improve, the easiest thing to do to to stop this kind of animal torture is to go vegan and we are asking the people of Bedford to join in the campaign and chose a kinder, animal-free diet.”
Viva! first launched the Face Off campaign by previewing footage of a Norfolk farm called Necton Farm with people in Bristol city centre and the reactions of people who watched it can be viewed here: www.viva.org.uk/faceoff
The next stage was revealing how chickens are farmed for eggs, which appeared in the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3508503/Shocking-pictures-distressed-dying-chickens-kept-horrific-conditions-called-enriched-cages-worse-battery-farms.html
Juliet said: “Whether people are meat eaters, meat reducers or vegetarians – everyone wants this cruelty to end. The aim of Face Off is to make sure their voices are heard and help spread the word about what animals are living through in order to end up on someone’s plate.”
Bedford is the latest stop for Viva! as it is taking the footage of this and many more pig farms to cities across the UK, asking people to join the campaign to Face Off to the meat industry.
Accompanying the Face Off Campaign is an updated version of Viva!’s report Pig Farming: The Inside Story, which reveals that 90 per cent of pigs in the UK are factory farmed and, shockingly, that only 1 per cent of piglets are reared outdoors all of their lives (1).
Organic pig farming is also in decline in Britain, with a population of 35,000 at any one time in 2013 compared to 71,000 in 2008 (2). On average in the UK, 10 million pigs are killed every year for meat (3).
However, although pig meat consumption has reduced overall by 10 per cent since 2007, Pig Farming: The Inside Story also shows that in 2014 pig slaughter increased sharply and about 1.3 million tonnes of pig meat was consumed in the UK that year – the equivalent of filling 520 Olympic-sized swimming pools (4).
The types of scenes Juliet has filmed are the norm in the 11,300 pig farms and 6,000 breeding sow units across the country, which house the 4.4m pigs that are alive in them at any one time.
The Pig Farming report and Face Off Campaign come at a timely juncture as the World Health Organisation placed processed red meat alongside smoking as a cause of cancer with retailers reporting a big decrease in sales of sausages and bacon following the announcement.
The pig industry is now claiming it is under threat to encourage people to buy British pork, however, DEFRA’s Agriculture in the UK 2014 report shows that imports are significantly lower that year than in 2010, while exports of pig meat from Britain are growing .
Juliet said: “We have heard over the years from the meat industry the reasons they believe these staggeringly low standards are necessary and the most recent version is that the UK is becoming commercially uncompetitive. But, actually government figures do not bear this out. The industry will always try to make excuses for cruelty. It is time for the British nation to stop supporting something that is inexcusable.
“Our simple aim is for people to see the truth and not be caught out by the lies they are being told about what their money is actually paying for.
“The intelligence of pigs surpasses that of dogs and you can see the suffering and pain in the faces of these animals. It’s time to take the doors off these industrial sheds and look inside - and to Face Off with the meat industry.”
Join Viva! in the Face Off challenge – go to http://www.viva.org.uk/faceoff
Join the campaign on Facebook as it tours the UK on https://www.facebook.com/vivavegancharity and follow the hashtag #VivaFaceOff on Twitter to see people’s responses.
Notes to editors
The Face Off Campaign includes various footage details of which are below:
Necton Hall Farm, Swaffham, taken on 4 October 2015 – demonstrates the barbaric daily surroundings of millions of animals in the UK as they are reared for human consumption. The footage of caged piglets at Poplar Farm, near Hull taken on 2 September 2015 shows how assurance schemes such as Red Tractor, and supermarket reassurances of high animal welfare, cannot be trusted. This farm was reported to the government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency, no reply was received.
Bird Bros Ltd. Sunny Farm, Swineshead, taken on 3 October 2015 – showed a typical enriched cage egg facility, where hens are kept inside for their whole lives. Although the battery cage is now banned it has been replaced by just another cage. Our investigation found, bald hens and dead and dying birds. 51 per cent of eggs in Britain come from the same type of systems.
Bedfordia Farms (Highfield Farm, Graze Hill and Twinwood Farm (near Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire)) taken on 30 September 2015 – The footage showed a pig with potentially infected tail docked tail. Another with potential evidence of ear biting/damage. Plus another pig with a very noticeable, protruding hernia ‘bullied’ by other pigs – but not isolated. Pigs kept on slatted floors with minimal (yet legal) environmental enrichment in the form of hanging metal (the bare minimum allowed). The farm was reported to the local Animal Health Agency, with offers of follow up evidence (including footage), but no response was received by Viva!.
(1) BPEX Pig Yearbook 2008
(2) DEFRA (2013) Agriculture in the United Kingdom. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs [online] www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315103...[Accessed 26 January 2016]
(3) DEFRA (2014) Agriculture in the United Kingdom. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/430318/auk-2014-28may15.pdf
(4) Olympic Pools are 50m x 25m x 2m therefore contain 2500m^3 water. 1 tonne = 1000kg, 1litre water = 1 kg, 1m^3 = 1000litres therefore 2500m^3 water = 2500000kg = 2500tonnes