Driffield pig firm denies activist footage exposes any welfare concerns

Yorkwold Pig Pro Ltd said an independent investigation had ruled out any animal welfare issues.
Yorkwold Pig Pro Ltd said an independent investigation had ruled out any animal welfare issues.
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Disciplinary action is being considered over failings at an East Yorkshire pig producer where animal rights activists documented dead animals and unsecured syringes and medicines.

Video footage posted online by the Animal Aid group claims to show “nightmarish scenes of filth, squalor and animal suffering” but an independent investigation since has found no welfare issues, Driffield-based Yorkwold Pig Pro Ltd said.

The video, which activists said was recorded last month across five pig farms operated by the company, shows dead pigs, a sow in a confined farrowing crate and others with stillborn piglets next to them. In other scenes, pigs are shown to apparently walk over faeces, others appear ill, some have cuts on their faces and there are syringes and medicines left out in the open.

In a statement issued to The Yorkshire Post, Yorkwold admitted to shortcomings but denied that the footage exposed any welfare issues.

The head of industry body, The National Pig Association (NPA), Dr Zoe Davies also said she had no concerns over the company’s welfare standards and that this would be verified by subsequent inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Agency and Trading Standards.

The footage comes amid a controversial Yorkwold planning application to build a unit for 5,000 pigs near Middleton-on-the-Wolds which has seen public objections based on its scale, access and smells affecting the village.

Yorkwold’s statement read: “These pictures, taken by a vegan group, do not show any animal welfare issues.

“There appears to be some shortcomings in the secure containment of our deadstock and our medicines, allowing Animal Aid to gain access into their stored areas and to take these graphic images. This has been investigated and we have spoken to all of our staff to remind them of our policies. Disciplinary action is being considered.

“All units in question have been subject to an immediate independent assurance inspections with no welfare issues found.”

The company said it is signed up to the Confidential Reporting Service, which requires farm visitors to report welfare concerns immediately and confidentially, using a hotline number displayed on all its units.

“Had Animal Aid called the hotline, it would have triggered an automatic independent inspection of the site the following day, and had there been any welfare issues they would have been immediately resolved,” the company said. “The care of our animals is our top priority, which is why we are a member of the scheme.”

Explaining the images shown in the video, the NPA’s Dr Davies said farrowing crates protect piglets from danger in the vicinity of fully grown pregnant pigs.

She said the occurrence of stillborn piglets was a common reality and that she believed the footage was shot overnight when the unit was unstaffed. Faeces in parts of pens was normal practice, she said, while facial marks are caused by pigs trying to establish a hierarchy during their early years. Ill pigs are isolated from others for treatment, she added.

“There are absolutely no welfare issues there that haven’t been dealt with,” Dr Davies said.

“What were found were house checking issues and they have been dealt with completely satisfactorily.”