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Animal abuse claims spark legal challenge at Devon farm

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Footage from Animal Equality UK reportedly revealed instances of animal abuse at Cross Farm in Devon, a supplier to Tesco. Image: Getty
Footage from Animal Equality UK reportedly revealed instances of animal abuse at Cross Farm in Devon, a supplier to Tesco. Image: Getty
Claims of animal abuse at Cross Farm have sparked legal action against the supplier, after undercover video footage reportedly filmed at its Devon site revealed scenes of piglets being crushed to death and bins full of ‘decaying corpses’.

The footage from Animal Equality UK – filmed across six visits in October 2023, January 2024 and June 2024 – showed scenes of piglets ‘thumped’ and killed against concrete walls, dead piglets throughout the farm and a ‘bin full of corpses’ on the barn floor. There were also signs of filthy conditions in the barns, with cobwebs and dust present throughout.

Commenting on the findings, Animal Equality UK executive director Abigail Penny said: “Cross Farm is a repeat offender, having been at the epicentre of a number of investigations over the years.

“Despite this, we monitored this farm over the course of eight months, and yet again discovered pervasive and ongoing issues. The authorities absolutely must step in and take our complaints seriously.”

A spokesman for Red Tractor said the undercover footage raised some concerns about compliance, so the farm’s Red Tractor certificate was temporarily suspended while it conducted an investigation.

“An independent assessor went at the time footage came to light to conduct an unannounced spot check, which found the farm had already implemented some measures to address issues raised in the footage,”​ said the spokesman.

Certificate reinstated

“The farm's certificate was therefore reinstated but the business remains under close scrutiny, receiving additional unannounced spot checks to monitor ongoing compliance."

A spokesman for the National Pig Association added: “The welfare of our animals and how they are cared for on our farm is absolutely paramount to our staff and business.

“Indeed, in the instances we have been made aware of examples which fall below the standard we would expect, urgent remediate action has been taken and we have cooperated with numerous and comprehensive independent inspections including farm assurance, APHA and the supply chain, and will continue to do so.”

Animal Equality has engaged law firm Advocates for Animals to submit a formal complaint to Trading Standards, in which it argued Cross Farm committed several legal breeches in regard to the treatment and killing of piglets.

Speaking on the case, Advocates for Animals solicitor Taylor Mcleod said: “The potential breaches to animal welfare laws seen in the footage captured by Animal Equality is very concerning.

Enforcing welfare standards

“Animal welfare legislation exists to protect animals from the treatment seen in the video footage and the governing authorities have a duty to ensure that these laws are adhered to. We hope that a thorough investigation will be carried out and the appropriate changes are made to ensure that welfare standards are enforced and upheld.”

Cross Farm was previously featured in a video from another organisation, Glass Wall Films, in March of this year. Footage reportedly captured in late 2023 showed similar images of dead piglets and decomposing bodies, as well as pigs engaging in canabalism.

However, an inspection by the National Pig Association found the farm to be compliant with all requirements.

“Pigs on Cross Farm struggle and suffer in the most abysmal conditions,”​ Abigail Penny concluded. “All too often their cries are kept firmly behind closed doors, but our footage shows the wretched reality that so many mother pigs face on British farms today.”

This new footage comes less than a month after activist group Animal Rising released videos taken at 45 RSPCA Assured farms which showed baby chickens dying in factory farms and pigs left dead for days in dirty sheds.

Related topics Legal Meat, poultry & seafood

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