Disturbing footage showing scenes of 'severe distress' inside a pig farm supplying supermarket giant Tesco has been released.
Hogwood Pig Farm in Oxhill, Warwickshire, has made headlines in the past after campaigners highlighted grim conditions in the facility. However, inspectors said no welfare breaches were found. Additionally, Hogwood carries the Red Tractor seal of approval, a marketing schemes which describes its aims as to 'promote clearer labelling and ensure food originates from trustworthy sources'.
Now according to animal welfare group Viva! Campaigns, which investigated the farm, new images shows one pig being eaten alive - which, according to The Daily Mail, 'are too distressing to publish'. Plant Based News has also chosen not to share this imagery.
In a statement to Plant Based News, the charity said: "Last year, Viva! Campaigns' undercover team...discovered severe overcrowding, pigs covered in excreta, barren, filthy conditions, animals abandoned to die, cannibalism of corpses left to rot amongst the living and decaying piglets were engulfed in a sea of writhing maggots.
"The initial 2017 investigation was reported to the Government's Animal and Plant Health Agency [APHA], Trading Standards and Tesco, all of which denied that there were any issues on the farm."
The team decided to revisit the farm in July 2018, following a tip-off that conditions had not improved. "Once more, the team discovered animals dumped in a gangway with no access to food or water with no escape, filthy barren sheds and a complete disregard for animal welfare," says Viva!.
Footage taken at Hogwood Farm in 2017
The charity says that a living piglet - 'trapped in a gangway, beneath a mass of pig bodies' - was being cannibalised, adding that under Farm Animal Welfare Council [FAWC] guidelines, 'dead animals should be removed from the living and diseased animals should be kept in isolation'.
Cannibalism is not natural behaviour for pigs and is caused by this bleak environment, according to Viva!.
Founder and Director of Viva!, Juliet Gellatley, said: "Despite the overwhelming amount of damning evidence exposed at Hogwood in 2017, both the Government and regulatory bodies overseeing the industry have failed to issue any sanctions to this farm.
"There have been no repercussions for the people who are keeping these animals in such horrific conditions.
"Our second investigation shows that Hogwood farm is contemptuous towards animal welfare; with pigs kept in filthy, barren conditions and injured and ill pigs still being left in a gangway with not even a blade of straw for comfort."
She added: "One little piglet at the bottom of the heap was visibly shaking – she was being eaten alive.
"Her hind legs were injured and bloodied and the blood was smeared over walls and floor...all we could see was her absolute and total dejection and pain. It was mortifying – something none of us ever want to see again.
"What purpose does the Government's legislation serve if it cannot protect animals in farms such as this? The blatant lack of concern from Tesco has demonstrated they do not practice what they preach and their consumers should take heed that this farm will not be an isolated case, if Tesco is happy to buy from this hell- hole, where else is it buying from?"
A Tesco spokesperson said: "We take all concerns extremely seriously so have immediately launched a full and thorough investigation.
"Animal welfare is important to us and Government-approved vets, the RSPCA, Red Tractor and Tesco colleagues all regularly inspect all our farms to ensure they meet the highest standards."