Our investigation uncovered evidence of painful mutilations, antibiotics critical for human health and pigs living in barren pens. Hidden from view of their customers, pigs are experiencing terrible suffering on UK farms supplying Tesco supermarkets. Our investigators found pigs living in unsuitable conditions and subjected to painful mutilations including tail docking.
On 9 British farms supplying Tesco we found:
Evidence of pigs having their tails cut off on 75% of farms where pens were accessed. This cruel practice (also known as “tail docking”) is a painful mutilation which is usually carried out within the first week of a piglet’s life (often without any pain relief). Even though routine tail docking is illegal in the UK, whole herds of pigs will often have their tails removed to try and prevent them from biting each others’ tails out of frustration.
Barren environments with no enrichment materials such as straw on 75% of farms where pens were accessed. Environmental enrichment is essential to reduce animal stress levels. Failing to provide materials such as straw is not only illegal in the UK, but also makes tail biting more likely as pigs are unable to demonstrate natural behaviours.
Presence of antibiotics of critical importance to humans on 33% of farms investigated. Antibiotics are often used preventatively in order to stop infections or illnesses from developing. The overuse of antibiotics in farms contributes to antibiotic resistance and helps to create the conditions for superbugs to emerge, posing a threat to human health. The World Health Organisation recommends that antibiotics of highest critical importance to humans should not be used in farming.
Change is possible
We believe supermarkets have a responsibility to take action to stop tail docking pigs when there are other non-surgical alternatives available to preventing tail biting such as providing pigs with more space and enrichment. Supermarkets hold the power to make changes in their supply chains and give pigs better lives.
Tesco must do better
As the largest supermarket chain in the UK, we are calling on Tesco Group to develop a global animal welfare policy with urgent and enforceable targets to address the welfare of pigs in their supply chain. They must prioritise efforts to end the cutting of piglets’ tails, a cruel and painful practice, which also contributes to antibiotic overuse.
Take action now
Sign our open letter and help us put pressure on Tesco Group to #RaisePigsRight.