Pigs boiled alive and chickens freezing to death in lorries: Shocking report reveals 4,000 severe breaches of animal safety rules at slaughterhouses in just two years
Animals were subjected to brutal conditions and horrifying deaths in more than 4,000 cases in the last two years, an investigation has uncovered.
The report found there were thousands of serious breaches of animal welfare regulations, including chickens and pigs being boiled alive and cattle freezing to death on lorries.
Breakdowns on production lines and problems with equipment can lead to livestock suffering needlessly painful deaths.
The figures cataloging the number and severity of incidents involving British farm animals were revealed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The Food Standards Agency documented scores of incidents of animal cruelty and neglect by slaughterhouse staff, lorry drivers and farmers, these include:
- A cow being ‘violently slammed’ against a wall following a row between workers
- An abattoir worker attacking three bulls with a wooden stick and electric prod
- A haulier caught on CCTV kicking and punching cattle before unloading them
- Sheep and pigs being grabbed by their wool or skin and lifted by their horns or tails
In 600 cases, animals arrived at slaughterhouses already dead. In one incident, 574 chickens from a total of 6,072 birds onboard, had died from scorching conditions.
Each of the more than 4,400 cases are recorded separately but can involve hundreds of animals.
In another example, almost 170 birds froze to death before arriving for slaughter because the lorry had ‘summer curtains’ attached in wintry conditions.
More than 30 pigs suffocated on another lorry on its way to an abattoir, in another incident.
A one-eyed cow was taken to slaughter with a face lesion ‘completely full of worms’ because of mistreatment, the data shows.
The FSA figures detailed a total of 9,511 animal welfare breaches between July 2014 and June this year – of which 4,445 were the most serious. These cases – within category four – involve episodes where animals were subjected to ‘avoidable pain, distress or suffering’.
Neil Parish, chairman of the Commons Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, spoke to the Bureau and called for the government to crack down on cruelty at abattoirs.
‘There is no place for animal cruelty at any stage of farm production – including the slaughterhouse,’ said Mr Parish, a Conservative MP and farmer.
‘This country prides itself as having some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. It’s vital the authorities crack down on any abuses and ensure there is zero tolerance to any mistreatment of animals when slaughtered.’
Each category four welfare breach between June 2014 and July this year resulted in enforcement action, the FSA said.
A FSA spokesman said it had ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to welfare breaches and would carry out enforcement action where needed.
Illegal practices can help spread bacteria which lead to food poisoning, food safety experts warn. Infections in poultry increase when they defecate more due to stress.
Contaminated poultry – which accounts for about 80% of food poisoning – kills 100 people every year.
In Britain, more than 900 million farm animals are killed for food in 317 approved slaughterhouses each year.
Isobel Hutchinson, head of campaigns at Animal Aid, which provided the photographs, said the investigation proved cruelty was ‘rife’ in UK slaughterhouses.
Stills from footage captured during undercover investigations supplied by Animal Aid.
- Severe welfare breaches recorded six times a day in British slaughterhouses – The Bureau of Investigative Journalism