I’ve written to the Environment Minister, Michael Gove, about alleged failures of the Red Tractor farms to guarantee minimum standards of animal welfare. An investigation carried out by the organisation Animal Equality exposed serious welfare problems on four British Red Tractor pig farms and includes video footage.
The UK is a nation of animal lovers and has stipulations in our law that go beyond other European countries, in particular, that sows must not be kept in sow stalls for longer than a couple of hours for insemination; yet Animal Equality filmed sows in cages for 127 hours continuously on one farm. A clear violation of the law.
The farm has been given the all-clear without Red Tractor viewing the full footage offered to them. The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) has also not requested the full evidence. I’ve asked Gove whether the APHA carried out an investigation on this farm? If so, what have they found and do they intend to look at all of the evidence before making a decision on this case?
Tail-docking of pigs is evident on all farms in the footage, yet Red Tractor claims this is not being done routinely on these farms. UK law also prohibits routine docking on pig farms. I’ve therefore asked Gove if Defra keeps any records on the proportion of pigs who are still tail-docked in the UK, and are there any measures taken by the farms investigated to prevent tail biting before they resort to tail docking?
There are lots of basic questions about the monitoring of pig farms, such as the permanent provision of materials such as compost, hay, and straw, which have been raised by this investigation. I find it disturbing that no one in authority has seized the chance to respond positively to the information brought to light. If we accept the sentience of animals, then we need to ensure that we treat them with respect and that message must come from the top of government.