The past, present and future of our campaign against the Australian pig farming industry.
AUSTRALIA’S largest pork producer Rivalea has launched an investigation into animal cruelty after shocking footage emerged of a pig being excessively prodded and kicked.
Filmed by activists over three days in February at the company’s Corowra piggery in northern NSW, the footage was released to highlight the treatment of animals by a certified and audited producer.
It was provided anonymously to new animal rights organisation Aussie Farms which, in turn, has handed it to NSW Police.
The footage shows a clearly disabled pig — unable to walk into a gas chamber — repeatedly prodded with an electric goad before a frustrated abattoir worker jumps into the run and kicks it twice.
Rivalea’s Managing Director, Mick Hewat said he was distressed and shocked to see the footage.
“This is not acceptable behaviour on any of Rivalea’s properties and farms,” he said.
“Rivalea has launched an immediate investigation and will be addressing this with the staff involved.
“This is not the level of behaviour or animal care we expect or accept from any of our staff.
The worker, whose identity has not been revealed, can be seen to grab the pig by the ear and toss it to the side where it is trampled for another 10 minutes by terrified pigs as they are excessively prodded.
In another instance captured by hidden cameras, a pig is prodded in the face before a worker holds it in the pig’s ear for 12 seconds as it screeches in pain.
Once inside the steel gondolas the pigs are lowered, three at a time, into a carbon dioxide chamber where they thrash about squealing and contort their snouts through the bars as they suffocate in apparently “humane’’ conditions.
Above you can see some of the less appalling moments of the footage. The full video is available here.
Mr Hewat said Rivalea, which is behind consumer brands including Riverview Farms, Murray Valley Pork, Family Chef and High Country Pork, invested heavily in animal welfare.
“Our staff strive continually to achieve these standards every day,” he said.
“We monitor our operations at every level to ensure that high standards of care are always upheld.
“This is being reviewed and new levels of monitoring will be implemented as a result.”
Aussie Farms operations director Chris Delforce said the footage depicted pigs being forced into the gas chamber by excessive use of an electric prodder.
“Carbon dioxide gassing has been touted as the most humane method of slaughtering pigs,” he said.
“After seeing this footage I think it’s fair to say that there is no humane method of slaughtering pigs.
“People are being lied to, and it’s time the truth, which for so long has been so well-hidden, to finally come out. If most people knew that this is what was going on, they would never support it.”
Mr Delforce said every time a farm or slaughterhouse was exposed for cruelty in Australia the industry responded that it was a “one-off” or rogue operator.
“This is the largest pig slaughterhouse in the country,” he said.
“Nobody can say this is a rogue operator, and how many more instances like this do we need to find before we start to accept that there is something systemically and inherently wrong with the way we treat animals raised for consumption in this country?
“This is how most pigs in Australia are killed — these chambers have been installed at around 15 different slaughterhouses across the country including most, or all, of the big players.”
Besides the excessive use of the electric prod he said the most disturbing thing about the footage was the “systematic, mechanised, impersonal nature” of the treatment.
“These pigs are terrified. As they’re moved from the holding pens up through the different sections of the race, they can hear the screams from inside the gas chamber up ahead,” he said.
“They know what’s going to happen and this is why we’re seeing so many of them trying so desperately to jump out. They don’t want to go in there.”
To expose the so-called “humane” slaughter of Australian farm animals Aussie Farms has today launched a new website: aussiepigs.com.
“We’re not telling people to do anything,” he said.
“We’re just putting the facts out there for people to make their own judgment.”
He said several scenes showed pigs with large umbilical hernias, which Aussie Farms is consulting with veterinarians to ascertain what causes these tumours and whether it was a reflection on their husbandry.
After witnessing the footage, one of the world’s foremost pig experts Cambridge University Professor Donald Broom said the sound of loud squeals were likely to make the pigs stop and condemned the practice.
“A person who allows the use of such a badly designed system for moving pigs is directly causing a high risk of poor welfare, suffering and distress in pigs moved in the system,” he said in a scathing report.
“The poor welfare, suffering and distress is unnecessary because a better system could be designed and used.”
On its website Rivalea states its policy is to “care for every pig, every day”.
“Rivalea believe that people are the single biggest contributors to the delivery of quality welfare systems — as Model Code of Practice for Welfare of Animals — Pigs 2007 says: `The basic requirement for the welfare of pigs is a husbandry system that is managed by trained and skilled stock-people’,” it’s animal welfare statement reads.
It also states “the company activities are regularly audited through the Australian Pork Industry Quality (APIQ) program”.