On 2nd April 2023, about 70 animal rights activists staged a protest outside Bickmarsh Hall Farm in Alcester, Warwickshire, England, after footage recorded by investigators from the Animal Justice Project in September 2022 exposed the conditions of some of the 8,000 pigs kept at that farm. The farm rears pigs for Cranswick Country Foods, which supplies some of the major supermarkets.

The footage obtained by the animal rights group shows a piglet shivering while laying on a concrete floor and left to suffer for 13 hours while being trodden on and bitten by other piglets before a member of staff intervened. It also shows another pig with a bloody rectal prolapse being cannibalised by other pigs for five hours. Other pigs unable to walk presumably because of lameness were also recorded. Workers were seen slapping and kicking pigs, and Animal Justice Project claims that an electric goad was illegally used.

Dr Alice Brough, a former pig veterinarian turned animal rights campaigner, said the following when the Animal Justice Project made public the footage: “This farm is the epitome of squalor, and unfortunately represents the norm for a large proportion of Britain’s pig farms. Pigs are forced to live in filthy, wet, bare concrete pens, completely covered in their own urine and faeces with no respite. These are naturally extremely hygienic animals, and these cramped, dirty and very poorly enriched conditions are undoubtedly causing both physiological and psychological damage.”

The company Red Tractor, which audits Bickmarsh Hall Farm and is supposed to only certify those farms with the best animal welfare, says the farm has been to be in compliance with animal welfare standards, but this is not surprising as many farms that have been exposed for animal cruelty had also received an approving stamp from this organisation — such as Home Farm or  Hogwood Farm exposed by Viva! — suggesting that having a Red Tractor label is really only a marketing thing. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.