Since 2017, Viva! Campaigns have recorded a catalogue of cruelty at Hogwood Farm in Warwickshire, including extreme overcrowding; routine mutilation; cruel farrowing crates; sick and dying pigs abandoned in gangways; the dead left to rot amongst the living; painful lacerations from brutal assaults and live cannibalism.
In Britain, around 4.9 million pigs are alive at any one time. (About 10 million pa are killed in the UK.) Most are factory farmed – in other words, crammed together in the smallest space possible. At Hogwood Farm, there are around 16,000 pigs crammed into filthy, barren pens or in crates.
On factory farms, ‘enrichment’ may mean a hanging chain or football. This is insulting and cruel to pigs – who are naturally inquisitive and highly-intelligent animals that, in the wild, can roam several kilometres each night, rooting and exploring.
In the wild, sows build nests from twigs and leaves. At Hogwood Farm, mothers are crated on cold hard concrete or metal floors with no comfort. ‘Farrowing crates’ are small metal cages in which pregnant sows can be imprisoned for up to five weeks, twice a year. They are moved inside them a week before giving birth until their piglets are taken. And they are perfectly legal and commonly used. Mothers cannot even turn around in them.
On British farms piglets are not only mutilated at only a day or two old, they are also weaned at just three to four weeks old. This is a psychological trauma to both mother and piglet. Filth, faeces and a lack of maternal care are the first experiences of newly-born piglets at Hogwood Farm.
Inside Hogwood, one pig was being eaten alive. Her leg was bitten through. She was so dejected and in so much pain she did not even move, but even if she had there was nowhere to escape to.
We also filmed another pig endure a brutal extended attack by her cellmates – being repeatedly bitten, trampled on and bullied, abandoned by workers and in need of medical attention. Attacks such as this are unheard of in the wild yet are increasingly widespread among factory farms like Hogwood, due to the lack of environmental enrichment the pigs are provided with.