Shocking footage: Irish pig farming investigation

Compassion in World Farming’s Investigation Unit has uncovered the worst abuses of pig welfare in the EU to date.

The Lonely Night

This video contains harrowing scenes that may cause distress.

In the spring of 2013, our investigations unit visited five Irish pig farms. The conditions they found were beyond our investigators’ worst expectations.

These farms were situated across three counties (Cork, Waterford and Kerry). We fear it is likely that they are representative of a large section of the Irish pig farming industry.

At the same time as this investigation was taking place, Ireland held the EU Presidency – and the Irish Government was making a show of taking the lead on animal welfare. Meanwhile, some of the most horrific cruelty we’ve yet uncovered was going on under its nose.

Our investigation found:

  • Pigs living in pens inches deep in excrement
  • Fly infestations due to the filthy conditions
  • Pigs covered in scratch marks caused by fighting
  • Widespread tail docking
  • Open wounds caused by tail-biting
  • Bored pigs chewing dead animals left in their pens
  • Weak and emaciated pigs left to die in corridors
  • Pigs in ‘hospital pens’ apparently just abandoned to die
  • ‘Dead bins’ full of pigs of all ages.

An ‘Irish only’ issue?

This is not an issue that only affects Irish consumers. 75% of Irish pig meat is exported, and 30% of that is destined for the UK.

Following this investigation, Compassion wrote to Defra to urge them to ensure Irish pork products entering the UK were meeting minimum EU Welfare standards and asked them to pressure Ireland to end these abuses as a matter urgency.

We also sent separate letters to the Irish Government and the Irish police and asked them to investigate these breaches, and almost 22,000 Compassion supporters emailed the Irish Government to demand urgent action. We were informed by the Irish Authorities that the subsequent visits by their staff had ‘reported no evidence of cruelty’.

Copies of the investigation film were sent to Members of the European Parliament, who supported the EU Pigs Directive, and to the European Commission, who introduced the legislation, requesting that they urge Ireland to take their responsibilities for the welfare of pigs seriously.

A petition calling on all European Union Member States to ensure the full enforcement of the EU Pigs Directive was signed by over 475,000 people and delivered to all 28 EU nations in March 2014. You can email the European Commission to remind them about the huge public support for improved enforcement of pig welfare rules.

What you can do

  • The EU Pigs Directive continues to be flouted by many Member States. Email Commissioner Borg now to ask him to act.
    Take action
  • Please tell your friends about our footage. If you share our outrage at the suffering inflicted on these animals, then please help spread the word and raise awareness of the horror behind the closed doors of intensive pig farms.
  • You can help improve life for pigs

    Your donation today could help us change the way Europe’s pigs are farmed. If you want pigs to have better living conditions with their health and welfare protected, please support Compassion in World Farming with a donation today. Thank you.

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