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. The method he used to stun pigs caused terrible suffering and should have been spotted and rectified by the slaughterhouse operator or the government-appointed vet. All the pigs had the electrified tongs applied to their heads for a very short time – just long enough to make them fall to the floor in pain but not long enough to render them unconscious. As they thrashed on the floor, often screaming, he swore and shouted at them, held them down with his foot or knelt on them Almost every pig was stunned incorrectly and illegally, and 12.2 per cent of the sheep we monitored also endured improper stunning.
Some of the saddest scenes we filmed were of tiny lambs. One still suckled her mother as the ewe was stunned and hoisted for slaughter, while another sought refuge by leaping onto the top of a bucket. Both were killed.
What happened next?
The slaughterer was suspended from working with live animals and had his licence revoked but continued to work at the slaughterhouse. The prosecution against him did not proceed because the Meat Hygiene Service (now the Food Standards Agency) thought too much time had elapsed between filming and prosecution – something the agency now accepts may not have been correct.