New Investigation: Horrendous Conditions Drive Pigs to Cannibalism

Recently released undercover footage of a pig farm in Leicestershire, U.K., reveals piglets mutilated, sick pigs left to slowly die, and animals driven to cannibalism by the horrendous conditions.

Over the course of four months, animal advocacy nonprofit Viva! collected footage inside Flat House, a Red Tractor-certified pig farm. U.K. regulatory organization Assured Food Standards uses its Red Tractor mark to assure consumers that food is “responsibly produced” and “farmed with care.”

Flat House is a “farrow-to-finish” farm, meaning that pigs are bred and raised to slaughter weight, and houses up to 8,000 pigs and 800 breeding sows at one time.

According to Viva!, at the farm pregnant pigs are moved to restrictive farrowing crates a week before giving birth. These crates are so small, the pigs cannot even turn around and can barely take a step forward or backward. They also make it impossible for mother pigs to physically bond with their babies.

Piglets endure unimaginable suffering at the farm, including routine mutilation. The footage shows workers cutting piglets’ tails and clipping their teeth while these babies scream in pain. Some piglets, weaker ones who cannot escape, are killed by feral cats who live around the farm and eat remnants of afterbirth and the remains of dead pigs.

Piglets endure unimaginable suffering at the farm.

Other piglets are killed by a process called “thumping”—picked up and slammed into the bars of their mothers’ crates. In the footage, one worker exclaims, “I f****** hate doing this!” as he tosses the bodies aside.

According to Viva!, once surviving piglets are weaned, they are moved to a barren nursery and eventually to overcrowded fattening sheds. There, the pigs live in squalor. The sick would be left to suffer without veterinary care and die on feces-covered floors. The dead would be dumped in the walkway or cannibalized by their cellmates—a disturbing consequence of their barren environment. The investigation documents a range of ailments, such as hernias, abscesses, prolapses, lacerations, and “grotesque bites.”

The investigation documents a range of ailments, such as hernias, abscesses, prolapses, lacerations, and “grotesque bites.”

Time and again, dreadful conditions have been exposed in factory farms around the world. A recent Mercy For Animals drone investigation in the United States reveals the dark, windowless sheds where pigs are raised—and the massive pond of feces and urine nearby. Pigs who did not survive were thrown away like garbage or dumped into open pits.

You can make a difference for pigs and other animals by choosing more plant-based foods. Download our free Vegetarian Starter Guide for tips.