Warning: this article contains photos of animal abuse that some might find upsetting
One of the UK’s largest pig factory farms has been shut down following multiple allegations of animal welfare breaches.
Flat House Farm, which is situated in Leicestershire, was the subject of an investigation by UK animal rights organization Viva! in 2020.
Alan and Rachel Elvidge, who are directors of the farm’s owner Elvidge Farms Ltd, appeared in court following a Trading Standards investigation into their business.
Elvidge Farms Ltd pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (Section 9 – duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare). The company was given a £4,500 fine.
According to Viva!, court proceedings revealed that Flat House Farm is no longer farming pigs.
While Viva! has celebrated the news that the farm is not in operation, it has expressed disappointment that the owners weren’t given tougher penalties.
“The public must wake up”
In an announcement after the court case, Viva! founder Juliet Gellatley said that she’s “delighted” that Flat House Farm has closed down.
Speaking later to Plant Based News (PBN), she said: “To learn that Flat House Farm is no longer housing any pigs brings me great joy. Having witnessed the immense suffering that took place at that horrific farm, knowing that no pigs will have to endure that hell is a comforting thought.”
She went on to say that the fact that no one responsible will face jail time is “unacceptable.” She added that, if Trading Standards had presented a stronger case in court, “maybe those that caused mass pain and unimaginable stress would be facing more serious repercussions.”
“While we can celebrate this victory, I cannot truly be happy knowing that millions more animals are still being subjected to daily torture in filthy conditions. The public must wake up to the realisation that this is the reality of UK animal farming: the false idyl of ‘free-range’, happy farmed animals is a lie. We must go vegan now to end the suffering.”
Conditions on the farm
In 2020, Viva! published footage of its investigation into the farm.
The video showed feral cats eating pigs alive, rotting corpses, and emaciated and sick pigs living in squalid conditions.
The footage was described as “disturbing” by Conservative MP Henry Smith. The farm was Red Tractor-assured, and the organization said it was “appalled” by the conditions after the video was released. It had its assurance label revoked after the investigation. Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley said on BBC Radio 4 that its reputation had been damaged as a result of Viva!’s video.
After the exposé, Trading Standards conducted its own investigation, which led to the prosecution of Flat House Farm.
Trading Standards brought a total of 68 charges, but only offered evidence on one, and the rest were dropped.
‘The Enforcement Problem’
This news comes just days after a separate report looked into the problem of lack of enforcement of welfare laws in the UK.
In what has been dubbed “the enforcement problem,” investigators found that fewer than three percent of UK farms are inspected each year.
What’s more, they found that just 0.33 percent of the complaints that were made led to prosecutions of animal cruelty.
“Non-compliance is endemic, evidenced time and again through undercover investigations and now further bolstered by the data revealed in this report,” said Abigail Penny, Executive Director of Animal Equality UK, who compiled the report.