'Shocking' pig cruelty condemned at Norfolk farm

An RSPCA investigation has begun into "shocking" footage of pigs apparently being beaten on a farm in Norfolk.

Animal Equality said it had filmed the animals being kicked, slapped and attacked with iron bars at Harling Farm, in East Harling, near Norwich.

The RSPCA said the footage was "some of the most shocking we have ever received".

Stephen Brown, who runs the farm, said it was co-operating with investigators.

"We are horrified to learn what has allegedly happened and have dealt with the staff involved appropriately," he said.

Undercover reporter

"We are co-operating fully with all investigations and are pleased that the RSPCA has visited the farm.

"We take animal welfare extremely seriously and place it at the heart of everything we do here."

An RSPCA spokeswoman said it had received the footage on Friday.

"We have begun a full investigation and a number of our officers have visited Harling Farm," she said.

"The footage is some of the most shocking we have ever received and we are taking this most seriously."

Animal rights organisation Animal Equality said the investigation "marks the beginning of an intensive campaign" to expose the "true face of animal farming in Britain".

"It provides a stark contrast to the pig industry's celebrity-endorsed 'Love Pork' marketing campaign," said a spokeswoman.

"The shocking revelations of the investigation have been submitted to the relevant authorities."

It said the footage was filmed by an undercover reporter between 27 July and 30 September last year.

The farm had been approved by the Red Tractor food quality assurance scheme, which aims to ensure "responsible farming methods".

'Shocked and appalled'

David Clarke, chief executive of Assured Food Standards (Red Tractor), said: "The behaviour shown on the video has no place within the assurance scheme and we completely condemn it.

Image caption An RSPCA investigation has been launched

"As soon as we were alerted to the issue on Friday of last week, we immediately removed the farm from the scheme on the basis of the video evidence and we have had an inspector on the farm during the weekend."

He added: "We are reviewing our systems in light of the lessons learned here and will almost certainly revert to more unannounced inspections."

NFU animal health and welfare adviser Catherine McLaughlin said: "The NFU is shocked and appalled by the scenes contained within this footage.

"We cannot comment on this individual case until a full investigation has revealed the truth behind the accusations, but the NFU does not condone any behaviour of animal cruelty or neglect."

The 600-acre (242 hectare) arable and mixed farm has 4,000 pigs and has been owned by the Brown family since 1920.

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