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5 Cases Of Animal Suffering Which Never Went To Trial

Animal Equality has investigated nearly 50 UK factory farms and slaughterhouses in the last 10 years. Here are five high-profile cases which never went to trial.

Animal Equality has investigated nearly 50 UK factory farms and slaughterhouses in the last 10 years. Our investigators often find workers violently handling or neglecting the animals there.

We always submit our findings to the authorities so action can be taken, but only some cases lead to prosecutions. The reasons why some farms are prosecuted and others are not remain unclear.

Here are five high-profile cases which never went to trial.

1. Calves Force Fed, Slapped In The Face And Denied Water On Organic Dairy Farm, 2018

Animal Equality released footage of calves being violently handled on an organic dairy farm in Somerset which supplied Waitrose. The shocking footage, which was filmed after a tip-off about cruel handling practices, showed:

  • Newborn calves struggling as workers shove a tube down their throat
  • A calf thrown to the ground and slapped in the face during force-feeding
  • A worker standing on a calf with his full body weight while shouting at them
  • Calves denied access to water for up to 29 hours on some of the hottest days of the year
  • A newborn calf dragged by its back legs into a separation pen
  • Calves routinely separated from their mothers less than 24 hours after birth
  • Several cows with their back legs chained together in shackles

Animal Equality’s investigation revealed that Coombe Farm failed to meet even the minimum legal requirements for looking after calves and falls well below organic and RSPCA standards, despite being certified by the Soil Association and RSPCA Assured.

2. Violence And Neglect Filmed On A Red Tractor Approved Pig Farm, 2018

Animal Equality uncovered scenes of violence and neglect on a Red Tractor-certified pig farm in Bedfordshire. Filmed over three months, the harrowing footage shows:

  • A worker swinging tiny piglets by a back leg and smashing their head against the wall. One piglet continues to kick for at least 10 seconds afterwards
  • Piglets screaming in agony as the tips of their teeth are clipped off without pain relief
  • Pigs being shocked repeatedly with an electric prod to force them onto the slaughter truck. Many are prodded in the side and neck in violation of the law
  • A tiny piglet frothing at the mouth, having been thrown onto a pile of dead piglets and left for dead hours earlier
  • Dozens of dead piglets on the floor of the birthing shed, as well as piglets trapped in crates with dead siblings
  • Larger pigs crammed into barren metal pens so small they are forced to lie on top of each other in record-breaking high temperatures
  • Other pigs locked inside filthy, wooden bins with lids that leave them in total darkness

Veterinary expert Professor Andrew Knight commented that the footage showed “inhumane handling and killing of piglets” as well as “excessive and inappropriate use of an electric prod likely to cause pain and fear.”

3. Scottish Salmon Killed While Conscious, 2021

The investigation, published exclusively by The Times, revealed several extremely serious animal welfare abuses, including a significant number of fish who were killed while fully conscious. The footage also details:

  • Numerous salmon displaying consciousness after failure to stun, evidenced by motions such as flapping, wriggling, and gasping
  • Salmon’s gills cut without prior stunning, causing pain, and/or salmon being re-stunned with a club after their gills were cut, causing blood to spray from their gills
  • Salmon being clubbed multiple times, in some instances as many as seven times per animal
  • Salmon’s gills torn with workers’ fingers, rather than a scalpel
  • Salmon falling or being thrown to the floor and left to suffocate

This footage is alarming. A significant number of salmon are clearly conscious when their gills are cut, which could result in extreme pain for as long as seven minutes.

Mark Borthwick, Head of Research at the Aquatic Life Institute

4. Chickens Deprived Of Water On Farms Operated By Known McDonald’s Supplier, 2020

Animal Equality released distressing scenes of severe animal suffering on eight British chicken farms across Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. All of the farms were certified by the Red Tractor assurance scheme and operated by Moy Park, one of the UK’s largest chicken producers. 

Moy Park was known at the time of publication to supply the fast-food chain McDonald’s, as well as supermarkets such as Tesco and Ocado.

The troubling footage, captured covertly by an Animal Equality undercover investigator, reveals:

  • Chickens deprived of water as drinkers are routinely raised to a height that they are unable to reach
  • Hundreds of chickens suffering agonising deaths each day as workers painfully crush the chicks’ necks in their hands
  • Chickens developing raw skin burns on their feet and chests from filthy, urine-soaked floors
  • Chickens bred to grow so big, so quickly, that they suffer from excruciating leg injuries and are unable to carry the weight of their own oversized bodies
  • Chickens crammed into immensely overcrowded barns, barely able to move or stretch their wings

These poor chickens never stood a chance. Moy Park’s actions are consistently underpinned by profit; this is a company that spends an eye-watering £700,000 on a CEO salary, yet instructs workers to kill vulnerable chicks at just a few days old, simply because they’re no longer considered profitable. Moy Park’s greed is unrelenting.

Abigail Penny, Executive Director of Animal Equality UK

5. Turkeys Eaten Alive On Award-Winning UK Farm, 2019

Animal Equality released harrowing footage showing extreme suffering and cannibalism on an award-winning UK farm, Grove Smith Turkeys Ltd, which supplied turkeys to high-end UK retailers, local butcher shops and pubs. The investigation shows:

  • Turkeys who are unable to walk being pecked and eaten alive by their flockmates
  • Multiple turkeys with severely infected wounds on their heads and eyes that were left untreated. Some had gone blind
  • Crowded sheds without adequate enrichment, causing the turkeys to peck each other out of boredom and frustration
  • Turkeys who had their beak tip cut off with a hot blade, a painful mutilation performed without anesthetic
  • Dozens of dead turkeys left to rot among the living, some for so long they were reduced to just skeletons

What Can You Do To Help Animals?

We can all help animals by leaving them off our plate. Every time we choose a plant-based alternative, we’re sparing an animal from being confined on a farm and sent to slaughter.

Animal Equality is working to hold the Government accountable for animal abuse and neglect which all too often goes unpunished.

Politicians boast about Britain’s ‘world-leading animal welfare standards’ but they mean nothing if they’re not enforced.

There are animals out there right now, scared and in pain on factory farms, who don’t understand why someone’s hurting them. 

Animal Equality is fighting to protect them but we need your support.

Our investigators go into factory farms and slaughterhouses with cameras to uncover the truth. They rely on people like you to support them and to help animals.

If you decide to make a donation, your gift will fund:

  • Investigations into factory farms to show people the truth.
  • Campaigns for new laws to protect animals and to hold animal abusers to account.
  • Awareness campaigns to inspire even more people like you to join our community and fight for animals.

Whatever you do in your ‘ordinary’ life – your work, your relationships, your commitments – you can be a hero for animals.

Please donate today.

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