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Animal Equality’s UK investigations: Changing hearts and minds

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 get justice for animals through criminal charges for abusers, enacting new laws, and pushing for industry policy changes.

To the shock of the public, however, most of what we document is 100% legal and standard practice in the meat, egg, fishing, and dairy industries. We believe that consumers have a right to know where their food comes from so that they can make more compassionate and informed decisions. That’s why we will stop at nothing to expose the truth.

Here are just a few of our investigations from the UK over recent years.

Kinswood Eggs, 2020

Our investigators covertly filmed distressing scenes of animal suffering inside this ‘quality assured’ egg farm in West Sussex, which confines around 320,000 hens.

We found hens packed into extremely overcrowded cages, in which they each had less usable space than an A4 piece of paper. In these cramped, harsh conditions, it’s almost impossible for hens to carry out many of their natural behaviours.

Many of the distressed birds were suffering from severe feather loss and some were almost completely bald with red, raw skin. Others didn’t survive and their bodies were left to decay in cages alongside living hens.

Moy Park Chicken Farms, 2020

We investigated not one but twelve British chicken farms in 2020. All of the farms are certified by the Red Tractor assurance scheme and operated by Moy Park, one of the UK’s largest chicken producers. 

The troubling footage revealed chickens bred to grow so big, so quickly, that they were suffering from painful injuries; some were even unable to walk.

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.

Farmers Fresh Wales Slaughterhouse, 2019

Animal Equality’s investigation inside Farmers Fresh Wales abattoir revealed horrifying scenes. 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. Their bloody, severed heads were discarded in full view of other animals and in one instance, a headless corpse was thrown on top of live sheep further down the conveyor, who were left to struggle under the immense weight.

Shockingly, this suffering took place in the presence of an official Food Standards Agency (FSA) inspector, while 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.

Cows were visibly agitated as their calves called out to them in distress. Far from the idyllic image of organic dairy farming, such cruel treatment of newborn calves while their mothers look on helplessly will undoubtedly shocked consumers. The breaking of this strong maternal bond is an inherent part of the dairy industry, where families are routinely separated.

Fir Tree Pig Farm, 2018

After receiving an anonymous tip-off, our investigators placed hidden cameras in Fir Tree Farm in Lincolnshire. We recorded several members of staff violently and repeatedly abusing pigs: kicking them in the face, jabbing them with pitchforks, spraying paint up their noses and slamming gates on their heads.

We also documented dozens of pigs with severe tail biting wounds, some critically infected, as well as many heavily scarred pigs and several with hernias.

Our footage led to three workers – including the farm’s Animal Welfare Manager – being convicted and sentenced for animal cruelty. Without our brave investigators, those men would still be beating pigs today.