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Spanish pigs investigation

In January 2013, Compassion in World Farming carried out an investigation into pig farming in Spain. Investigators visited 15 farms. What they uncovered was shocking.

Undercover in Spain's pig farms

This film contains scenes of animal suffering which you may find upsetting.

Despite existing European Legislation on pig welfare, and a new ban on some of the worst aspects being brought into force on 1st January 2013, investigators found footage of pigs kept in appalling conditions.

EU law requires farmers to provide enrichment materials to allow pigs to engage in their natural investigation and manipulation activities. Yet our investigation proves that many farms still house pigs in squalid or completely barren conditions with no ‘manipulable materials’, like straw in any of the pens.

EU law makes it illegal to keep sows in stalls beyond the first four weeks of pregnancy. Yet, evidence suggests that pigs are often kept confined inside sow stalls for far longer than the four weeks.

In almost all farms that we visited, all pigs had their tails removed, almost certainly without pain relief, despite EU rules forbidding routine tail docking... In a few of the farms we visited, dead pigs were left in bins at the farm gate.

The eyewitness account of an investigator

 

Filthy, squalid conditions

These photos were taken during my investigation in Spain, January 2013.

Filthy, squalid conditions

Barren conditions

I saw thousands of pigs kept in barren conditions.

Barren conditions

Barren conditions (1)

They are possibly some of the most barren, poorly managed farms I’ve ever seen.

Barren conditions (1)

Tail docking

Individual cases of suffering stood out at every farm visited - tail docking is a routine practice on Spanish pig farms.

Tail docking

Victim of fighting

Some pigs were covered snout to 'docked' tail with bites and scratches. They would cower in the corner away from their companions, but were unable to escape from aggression.

Victim of fighting

Wastebins

Many of these pigs end up in the large waste bins found on site, often full of both young and old.

Wastebins

Awful conditions

These were truly awful units and something I will never forget seeing.

Awful conditions

These are possibly some of the most barren, poorly managed farms I’ve ever seen.

These intensive pig units in Spain were very old and in a dilapidated condition – it was no surprise then that the thousands of pigs I saw were kept in barren conditions. With pigs having no access to the outside and living a life on concrete and slats surrounded by their own excrement, it was inevitable that we would document suffering.

Individual cases of suffering stood out at every farm visited. Some pigs were covered snout to 'docked' tail with bites and scratches. They would cower in the corner away from their companions, but were unable to escape from aggression. Others were walking around with football-sized abscesses dangling from their bodies.

I thought many of these pigs would end up in the large waste bins found on site, and on further inspection these bins were often full with both the old and the young.

These were truly awful units and something I will never forget seeing.

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.
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