5 years of UK investigations

Since 2006, Animal Equality has investigated over 800 facilities – mostly industrial farms and slaughterhouses – in 13 countries. Our investigators risk everything to expose the truth about what’s going on behind closed doors, often going undercover for weeks or even months. Investigative footage has helped us to get justice for animals through criminal charges for abusers, enacting new laws, and pushing for industry policy changes.

Although we uncover legal violations, many of the things we document are entirely legal and standard practice in the meat, egg, fishing, and dairy industries. Our investigations continue to show that the exploitation and abuse we document across different facilities is not random: it is systemic.

Here are just a few of our investigations from the UK over recent years, all of which have been linked to big meat companies, retailers, welfare accreditation schemes or government agencies.

P&G Sleigh pig unit, 2021

Our investigators covertly filmed disturbing scenes of animal suffering filmed at P&G Sleigh pig unit, a pig farm linked to giant UK meat producer, Pilgrim’s Pride UK

We found pigs being hammered to death, piglets on the farm having their tails cut off and teeth pulled out with pliers without anaesthetics, and many mother pigs suffering from torn vulvas and severe prolapses following months or years of forced impregnation.

Pilgrim’s Pride UK has has won many industry awards, is known to supply major retailers including Tesco, Lidl and Marks and Spencer, and many farms linked to Pilgrim’s Pride UK are assured by Red Tractor or by the RSPCA Assured scheme.

The Scottish Salmon Company, 2021

Early in 2021, we released footage captured by our investigators from a salmon slaughterhouse in Scotland, owned by The Scottish Salmon Company

Our investigators found salmon being clubbed to death, having their gills cut while still conscious, and workers leaving salmon that had fallen onto the floor to suffocate.

The company linked to the slaughterhouse was accredited by the RSPCA and is known to supply major retailers including Waitrose and the Co-op.

Moy Park Chicken Farms, 2020

We investigated not one but twelve British chicken farms in 2020. All of the farms were operated by Moy Park, one of the UK’s largest chicken producers, and a known supplier to many major retailers and restaurants – including McDonald’s and Tesco

Secret filming exposed that hundreds of fragile chicks are suffering agonising deaths on these farms as workers crush the necks of those deemed too weak or too small to be profitable. On some of the farms, smaller birds were deprived of water as the drinkers were routinely raised to heights they were unable to reach. The farms are certified by the Red Tractor assurance scheme.

Farmers Fresh Wales Slaughterhouse, 2019

Animal Equality’s investigation inside Farmers Fresh Wales abattoir revealed horrifying scenes, which were filmed taking place in the presence of an inspector from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a Government agency.

We filmed small and emaciated sheep falling through a gap in a conveyor system, while others became painfully jammed in the machinery and were left to hang in mid-air. Petrified sheep who were trapped in the machine were then killed and brutally decapitated. The FSA was supposed to be investigating serious allegations of cruelty to animals at this same slaughterhouse. At one point, when asked if he was happy with a dead body being piled on top of live sheep, the FSA officer replied “spot on”.

Coombe Farm Organic Dairy, 2018

We exposed calves being violently handled on this organic dairy farm in Somerset. Newborn calves struggled as workers callously shoved tubes down their throats, with one even slapped in the face while being force-fed. The farm was certified by both the RSPCA and the Soil Association.

Far from the idyllic image of organic dairy farming, we filmed cows visibly agitated as their calves were separated from them. The breaking of this strong maternal bond is an inherent part of the dairy industry, where families are routinely separated. The farm was also known to supply Waitrose.

Red Tractor-certified pig farms, 2017

In 2017, Animal Equality conducted investigations on a number of pig farms certified by Red Tractor

The investigation uncovered female pigs caged in tiny ‘sow stalls’ for days on end, a practice banned in the UK since 1999, as well as pigs having their tails amputated (docked), a painful mutilation performed without anaesthetic that should not be done routinely under UK law.

One of the farms was known to be supplying Morrisons, and another had won awards at the National Pig Awards in 2016 and 2017.