Posts Tagged ‘Department of Agriculture guidelines’

Is there such a thing as a good death?

I know a dismal question to be asking at the start of the new year, but after our experience yesterday I think it is an important one.

Yesterday, we had determined to take our oldest sow to the abattoir.  She has been with us for over 5 years and has had a really good life here in Redwood.

Lucy, the sow enjoying vegetables

We know we treat all our animals – both domestic and farm – well.  (Sometimes I wonder if we treat them too well – especially when you are trying to tempt them into a trailer with a bucket of food and they are ignoring you cos they just aren’t hungry!)

So yesterday Lucy was loaded onto the trailer.  As she was older and much, much bigger than our normal delivery, our local small abattoir could not take her. (We later learnt that she weighed 280 kgs!)

We don’t like to send the pigs on a long arduous journey in a trailer so thought we were doing her a favour by taking her on a short trip to Roscrea.  How wrong we were!!

Alfie arrived at the factory, and was told that he had to go to a ‘special’ area as he was delivering a sow and they (sows) don’t go into the main area.  We weren’t told this on the phone when booking.  He was, however, in the main delivery area long enough to witness a dead pig in the yard being carted into the butchery area on a forklift.  And worse still a semi-alive/semi-dead pig lying in a bin in the yard.  He also saw factory staff washing out a double height trailer – with the pigs still in it.  They started hosing at the top level, washing all the effluent down on top of the pigs on the lower level.

These were factory reared pigs – so they had had a horrible life, and were now being treated equally badly in death.

Alfie left and went to the ‘special’ area – which was basically a 20 ft open topped trailer – where farmers were backing up their trailers and offloading sows.

The trailer was already full of sows (obviously from differing herds which causes its own difficulties), and who it appeared had been in this trailer for a number of days – they were lying 2 deep in their own excrement and had no access to water.

This did not stop people from beating pigs into the trailer with wheel braces.

Bear in mind there was no more room in the trailer, in fact the trailer was already overloaded.

So what was now happening was that the new sows were walking in on top of those already on board.

All pigs were stressed and shocked and some were wounded.

How long they were going to be in this trailer for we do not know.

We cannot say that the factory were outwardly condoning this, but they were not supervising the offloading, trying to stop the behaviour or providing a second trailer.

We know there are strict Department of Agriculture guidelines – but why were they not being applied in this instance.

We have contacted both the ISPCA and the Department of Agriculture to report this appalling treatment of animals.

And another thought for everyone out there.  These pigs were very very stressed which of course does effect the meat and not in a good way – this is what goes out into the food chain!

Beware where you buy your pork from!

Lucy came home and went to a more humane place.  She had a good life and a good death.

An Update:

I am delighted to report that late yesterday evening we had a call from a senior representative of the company who asked to come and talk to us about what had happened.

Early this morning 2 representatives called and have been here for the past couple of hours.  They have assured us that changes have been put in place already.  They explained the reasoning – EU regulations – for some of what Alfie witnessed.  The sows cannot be offloaded to existing holding pens within the factory area – hence the offloading directly onto a holding trailer outside the factory perimeter.

The good news is that

  • The hosing down of the trailers with pigs on board, as described above, has been stopped with immediate effect.
  • There will be a company representative supervising the loading of sows and more trailers will be provided.
  • And they are looking at an alternative way whereby the sows from each herd can be segregated within the trailers.

So, overall a good result.

It is particularly good, don’t you think, that a company reacts and deals with a complaint openly and honestly.  Well done to them.

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