‘This farm is the epitome of squalor’

“Pigs are forced to live in filthy, wet, bare concrete pens, completely covered in their own urine and faeces with no respite. These are naturally extremely hygienic animals, and these cramped, dirty and very poorly enriched conditions are undoubtedly causing both physiological and psychological damage.


“The stress induced by such an environment and lack of appropriate care appears to be contributing to the presence of disease on farm, with associated mortality evidenced by full ‘dead bins’, and vice behaviours like tail biting and cannibalism. 

She added: “The level of consideration shown for the pigs by farm staff is deeply concerning, and it is evident that problems are not promptly and appropriately dealt with, leading to prolonged and entirely avoidable suffering.”

Claire Palmer, the founder of the Animal Justice Project, said: “Sadly, in this case, cameras don’t lie. Our footage captures the grim reality for pigs on modern-day farms in Britain as pork sales continue to rise. 

“Consumers are promised the world when it comes to their food choices, with Red Tractor, which includes 95 per cent of UK pigs under its label, offering public-pleasing assurances and high welfare claims, and corporate responsibility supermarket policies.”

She added: “On Bickmarsh Hall farm, pigs were living in filth and faeces, left to suffer, and confined inside concrete cells. Consumers must now be asking themselves, is a bacon sandwich or pork pie really worth that?”

(c) Animal Justice Project


Peter Egan said: “Despite having witnessed many harrowing scenes of animal cruelty, I’ve found the video taken at Bickmarsh Hall farm particularly heart-breaking. 

“To see such intelligent and sensitive animals being so horrifically abused, from being hit, kicked, left to die, living in filth, and incarcerated in cages, reveals a callous industry that leaves a grave mark on humanity.”

The Animal Justice Project claims the infractions “are some of the worst” witnessed by its experienced staff. But they are concerned that the increase in the UK in the number of megafarms, which have thousands of animals being taken care of by fewer staff, will result in worsening welfare conditions. 

Bedding isn’t required for all pigs under the Red Tractor scheme. Pens at Bickmarsh contained no bedding or comfort, but only hard slats. Many were filthy, with thick excrement covering the pigs. The animals were documented biting and fighting each other – with only five feed troughs for about 25 pigs.

There were almost 11 million pigs killed in 2021 by the UK agriculture industry. The number of animals being slaughtered continues to increase even as veganism becomes an increasingly popular dietary choice.


Cranswick Country Foods has stated that the “highest standards of animal welfare” are used “throughout the supply chain” and that all its UK producers are “independently audited”. It made an unannounced audit of Bickmarsh Hall after seeing the footage and declared that “the unit was found to be operating to the required standard.”

A Tesco spokesperson told the The Ecologist: “We take any allegations of this nature extremely seriously and are urgently investigating this footage with our supplier.

“We require all of our suppliers to uphold high animal welfare standards – all of our pigs are reared to recognised farm assurance standards such as Red Tractor, RSPCA Assured as well as our own Tesco Welfare Approved standard which exceeds Government-approved industry welfare standards.”

The Ecologist has asked for comment from Red Tractor, Cranswick Country Foods, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

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Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from the Animal Justice Project. 


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