Pigs and piglets at RSPCA Assured farms suffered abuse at the hands of workers


Our latest undercover investigation has hit national press, being featured in the Independent, after pigs and tiny piglets were physically abused during the loading and unloading processes of transportation. Over 125 hours of footage was obtained by our undercover investigators and it has exposed the 'RSPCA Assured' welfare label for what it really is: a façade that masks abuse, exploitation and killing.


The footage reveals a culture of abuse amongst Peddars Pigs’ workers, a company that is RSPCA Assured, and offers a ‘higher welfare’ rearing and transport system. Pigs were shocked with an electric goad, slapped, crushed and kicked whilst being transported to slaughter. Tiny piglets, who were just weeks old, were kicked, hung upside down, crushed and thrown by workers.

Disturbing scenes showed workers hitting young, frail piglets with boards, kicking them, throwing them down trailer ramps and onto concrete floors. Around 3,000 piglets were loaded and unloaded in a single day by Peddars Pigs' workers, after being taken away from their mothers.

“Piglets were kicked with such force that they became airborne on the loading ramp, and they were hit forcefully with boards resulting in the same. These piglets are only three to four weeks old, there is absolutely no justification for use of force on such a small animal.” - Dr Alice Brough BVM&S MRCVS, UK pig veterinarian

This is not, and never is, just a 'one-off' case of animal abuse. We filmed the loading and unloading of animals across NINE farms, all of which sought RSPCA Assured transportation company, Peddars Pigs. This is the systematic and normalised suffering that comes with exploitation.

Animals need our help now more than ever. Although some sectors of animal agriculture are shrinking, others, like the farming of pigs and chickens, are still stable or even growing. We must show consumers, that no matter whether their 'bacon' was raised 'free-range', RSPCA Assured or organic, the transport of those pigs was still the same. Handling literally thousands of pigs and piglets on a daily basis creates a culture of socially-expected abuse. Animal transportation is hellish and traumatic.

'Finisher' pigs – those who have been fattened until the age of 5-6 months old and were due to be slaughtered – were shocked in their faces, shoulders, fronts and rear ends with an electric goad. The panicked animals attempted to escape as workers shocked them in quick succession, despite being unable to move forward. The use of electric goads is forbidden by both the RSPCA and Red Tractor, and legally it must be only used as a last resort, but there is never an excuse to use such a heinous and cruel weapon.

No animal should ever be born into a world where they have a weight target and slaughter date already assigned to them. The farming of animals violates their rights and takes away their autonomy. Being born into a life of exploitation is tragic enough on its own, but inflicting purposeful abuse upon them as well is barbaric. The workers were evidently desensitised to violence, reflected in the callous way that they treated the poor pigs.

“The footage shows that use of the electric goad was repeated and gratuitous, and thus constitutes a significant breach in welfare regulations.” - Dr Alice Brough BVM&S MRCVS, UK pig veterinarian

During the 125 hour of filming, lame animals were loaded and unloaded onto transporters, who were unable to bear weight on their legs. No animal should ever be forced into transporters, especially lame individuals. Scrotal hernias were also common amongst the terrified animals.

Independent of being attacked by workers, pigs suffer during 'standard' transport, including short journeys. They are unable to regulate their body temperatures without external influences like bathing, as well as being mixed with unfamiliar pigs. Any changes to upcoming welfare legislation will never stop this from happening. Limits to journey length, increases in headroom allowances and even changes to extreme temperatures under which transport is allowed, will never protect pigs, or any animals. With this investigation comes the launch of our NEW 'Lives Not Stock' campaign, which aims to get justice for animals transported and exported.

Throughout 2021, there were almost 3,000 non-compliances for pigs arriving at slaughterhouses. 'Non-compliances' reflect trauma and illnesses like being lame, having prolapses, other injuries or even being emaciated. Of these, 770 pigs DIED during transportation. Sick and evidently abused animals should never be transported, let alone to their deaths. The tragic reality behind animal transport has been hidden for too long, but we are here to expose it...

Consumers and activists have a lot of power. Animals are not stock and never should be. They have a right to their own autonomy, including the right to not be forcibly transported to aid in their exploitation. The biggest thing that we can do is to be vegan and stop funding this barbaric industry. Next, we must continue to expose the abuse, start conversations with non-vegans and promote a more compassionate world for everyone.

We must see these malicious assaults and turn them into fuel to make a difference and feed our determination to create a vegan future.

You can check out our 'Lives Not Stock' campaign here!

Donate today to help fund our vital investigative work and build a better future for everyone.

As always,

For the animals.

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