Our ground-breaking work to reveal what takes place behind closed doors in British slaughterhouses began in January 2009 when we planted fly-on-the-wall cameras inside JV Richards, a Cornish slaughterhouse. This was quickly followed by investigations at AC Hopkins in Somerset and Pickstock in Derbyshire. We have now secretly filmed inside sixteen UK slaughterhouses and found welfare breaches and poor practice in nearly all of them. Time and again, our cameras reveal that slaughterhouses are violent bloody places where animals do not give of their lives freely, but they are stolen.
Our latest investigations are into a Welsh slaughterhouse ‘Farmers Fresh’, this was our first in Wales. We also fairly recently investigated ‘PJ Hayman and Sons’, which busted the myth of a local, small-scale ‘family-run’ slaughterhouse somehow being more humane. It is all too easy to fall for industry and marketing spin, especially when the truth can be so unpalatable, we really should be aware of what farmed animals go through in order to make an informed decision whether to support these industries. It’s not so easy to witness the truth, but we ask on their behalf…
Click on slaughterhouse name to read the full details of what we found and the actions taken by the authorities
Animal Aid placed hidden cameras in the lairage, loading and slaughter areas during Spring and Summer 2019. Once again, we have brought to light evidence of blatant staff incompetence and brutal treatment of animals.
Animal Aid placed hidden cameras inside the slaughterhouse for two days in July of 2018. The footage shows several animals being beaten and mistreated.
Forge Farm meats was the fourteenth slaughterhouse investigated. We captured secret footage taken over the course of three days between April 12 and May 15, 2017 inside Forge Farm slaughterhouse. This revealed serious cause for concern over the way the animals were treated prior to slaughter, including stunning methods.
Animal Aid placed hidden cameras in the lairage and slaughter room over three days in March 2017. Incidents of lawbreaking and deliberate cruelty were uncovered, including sheep routinely having their throats repeatedly cut and animals being picked up and thrown by their fleeces.
Animal Aid filmed sheep being stunned and slaughtered over three days in March 2017. Animals were handled roughly, with one even being thrown over a gate.
Animal Aid filmed sheep and cattle being stunned at this slaughterhouse for four days in October 2016. A severely distressed water buffalo was filmed attempting to jump out of the restraint box and sheep were documented running in circles to evade being stunned.
Animal Aid filmed sheep being killed at this non-stun slaughterhouse for three days in December 2014. There were many problems at this slaughterhouse including the appalling lay-out which guaranteed additional suffering.
Animal Aid filmed pigs being killed over four days in March and April 2011. At least two different workers stubbed their cigarettes out on the faces of pigs, while another punched a pig hard in the face for fun.
Animal Aid filmed sheep, calves and goats being killed over two days in September 2010. As with, Tom Lang Ltd, many of the sheep slaughtered at F Drury and Son had their necks broken and their heads cut off immediately after their throats were cut, despite the law stating that the animals must be left for at least 20 seconds to ensure they are first dead.
Animal Aid filmed pigs being killed over three days in April 2010. This was one of the most violent slaughterhouses we filmed with one worker launching regular vicious and sadistic attacks on the animals.
Animal Aid filmed sheep and pigs being killed over two days in March 2010. We filmed a great deal of violence inflicted on the sheep at this slaughterhouse: animals were dragged by their heads into the stun pen or were picked up by their fleeces and ears and forcibly thrown.
Animal Aid filmed pigs and sheep being killed at this Soil Association-approved slaughterhouse over two days in October and November 2009. Sheep were picked up by their fleeces and thrown into the stun pen.
Animal Aid filmed cows being slaughtered over three days in June 2009. Of all the ten slaughterhouses now filmed by Animal Aid, Pickstock was the only one that we did not film breaking animal welfare laws. That is not to say, however, that there was no suffering.
Animal Aid filmed pigs, sheep and suckling lambs being slaughtered over three days in April 2009. The slaughterman we filmed showed a callous disregard for the welfare of animals for which we believe he should have been prosecuted.
Animal Aid filmed sheep, pigs and calves being killed over five days in January 2009. Despite it being illegal, we filmed many pigs being kicked in the head and face.
Workers Punished, Slaughterhouses Closed
As a result of our work, many slaughterers had their licences permanently revoked, two men were jailed for cruelty to animals at Cheale Meats after they beat and burned pigs, and two slaughterhouses – A&G Barber and Bowood Yorkshire Lamb – were forced to close down.
We are expecting further prosecutions in future.
Many more workers should have been brought to court but, when the coalition government came to power in 2010, it dropped all pending charges without a credible explanation. Animal Aid was forced to campaign to have the relevant government department stripped of its prosecution function, and this was achieved in 2011. Sadly, by then, many slaughterhouse workers had escaped justice.
Supermarkets adopt CCTV
Prior to the legal requirement for there to be CCTV in all English slaughterhouses, this was of course only a voluntary measure. Ten major UK supermarkets insisted that their slaughterhouse suppliers install CCTV after they saw the undercover footage Animal Aid had taken inside randomly chosen slaughterhouses. Our campaign for CCTV to be installed in slaughterhouses was accepted by the ten largest – Morrisons, Waitrose, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Tesco, Lidl, Asda, Marks & Spencer and Iceland – along with wholesalers Booker, all agreed to deal only with slaughterhouses that have CCTV cameras installed. The RSPCA insists that all RSPCA Approved slaughterhouses have CCTV. However, none of the supermarkets have robust and independent monitoring, and we continue to encourage a change of law that would bring in independent monitoring of the footage.
The public demands CCTV
Animal Aid’s Welsh Autumn 2019 poll revealed that the people of Wales show overwhelming support for CCTV for Welsh slaughterhouses. 79% of respondents either strongly supported (54%) or tended to support (25%) the need for compulsory CCTV for Welsh slaughterhouses. Just 4% of respondents tended to oppose (3%) or strongly opposed (2%) the measure. With (13%) expressing no strong feelings either way and the remaining (3%) responding with ‘don’t know’.
Politicians demand CCTV
More than 140 MPs signalled their support for the campaign for mandatory CCTV by signing Early Day Motions or agreeing to be photographed with our campaign banners. And more than half of all Welsh Assembly Members pledged their support via a Statement of Opinion tabled by Rebecca Evans. More recently there has continued to be good cross-party support for the measure.
In the media
Our investigations have been featured all over the print and broadcast media, and helped to educate the public about the cruelties of slaughter. These are just a few of the national media headlines:
Stopping the suffering
Our investigations have shown that the slaughter of animals is not a humane business, and countless people have adopted an animal-free diet as a result of our work. Those who wish to find out more can download a free Guide to Going Vegan.