Notes to accompany film from Cheale Meats Ltd

Posted on the 28th July 2011

Cheale Meats Ltd, Brentwood Essex
Filmed by Animal Aid 28 & 29 March, and 27 & 28 April 2011

The Film (total run time – 35:27)

Section 1: Cigarette Stubbing (0:08)

We filmed three different workers stubbing their cigarettes out on the faces of pigs on 28 and 29 March. This is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA) and the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, known as WASK.

WASK states:
No person engaged in the movement, lairaging, restraint, stunning, slaughter or killing of animals shall –
(a) cause any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering to any animal; or
(b) permit any animal to sustain any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering.

(Part 1, Regulation 4): http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/regulation/4/made

Section 2: Pig Punched in Head (02.07)

A pig was deliberately punched in the head on 29th March. This abuse is in contravention of the AWA and WASK.

WASK states:
No person shall inflict any blow or kick to any animal.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 12 (3)):
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

Section 3: Injured Pigs (02:33)

On 27 April, we filmed three injured pigs as they were brought from the lairage, into the race and from there into the stun pen.

PIG ONE (02:42): This young pig drags himself into the pen along with the other pigs at the start of the first clip.* He is clearly unable to walk. In the second clip, a worker comes through but ignores his plight, even though he is clearly scared and ‘vocalising’.* In the third clip, a different worker tries to move this pig by lifting him by his tail,* and then tries to push him along the floor. He then kicks the pig along.* Our second camera picks him up again as he enters the round pen in the race, where other pigs rush around him and where he is shoved into the round pen with the gate.* When being loaded into the stun pen, he is again shoved with the gate* and prodded along. Our third camera shows what happens to him after he has entered the stun pen. Scared and screaming, he is dragged into the pen by his ears.* Although he is on the ground right in front of the stun operator, he is once again ignored and, one by one, five of the other six pigs are stunned around him.* He drags himself to the back of the pen where he is finally stunned. Sadly, the stun is not instant, and he suffers even more as he struggles against it.* The worker holds his thrashing body down with his foot.

* WASK was contravened several times with regards to this pig, as is denoted by asterisks in the text above. Under WASK, sick or disabled animals should be kept separate from other animals and should be killed immediately and where they lie. If possible to do so – and it does not cause additional pain or suffering – the animal can be moved using a trolley but must be slaughtered immediately. It is illegal to drag an animal by his ears.

Wording of the law:
The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement or lairaging of animals shall ensure that pending the slaughter or killing of any sick or disabled animal in the slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard, it is kept apart from any animal which is not sick or disabled.
(Schedule 3, Part II 2 (e))
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement or lairaging of any animal shall ensure that any animal which has experienced pain or suffering during transport or following its arrival at the slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard is slaughtered or killed immediately.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 4 (a))
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement or lairaging of any animal shall ensure that any animal which is unable to walk is not dragged to its place of slaughter or killing but is slaughtered or killed where it lies; or if it is possible and to do so would not cause any unnecessary pain or suffering, is transported on a trolley or movable platform to a place of emergency slaughter or killing where it is then immediately slaughtered or killed.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 5 (a,b))
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement of any animals shall ensure that every animal is moved with care and, when necessary, that animals are led individually.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 9)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

No person shall inflict any blow or kick to any animal.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 12)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

No person shall lift or drag, or cause or permit to be lifted or dragged, any animal by the head, horns, ears, feet, tail, fleece or any other part of its body in such a way as to cause it unnecessary pain or suffering.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 7)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, electrodes to stun any animal unless the strength and duration of the current used is such that the animal is immediately rendered unconscious and remains so until it is dead.
(Schedule 5, Part II, paragraph 8)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/5/made

PIG TWO (07:07): This spotted pig drags herself into the lairage at the start of the first clip and through the first three clips, she struggles to move around the pen. In the fourth clip, she is hit in the face and prodded and kicked towards the exit. Our second camera records her entering the round pen in the race. She is shoved inside using the gate and is kicked and prodded into the stun pen. Our third camera shows that her ordeal is over quicker than that of the first pig. Although the stun operator appears to be choosing a different pig to stun first – indicating that he still does not prioritise the injured – the spotted pig finds herself in front of him and is stunned first.

All but the final two sections of WASK noted above were breached here as well.

PIG THREE (09:52): This third injured pig can be seen in the opening clip at the back of the lairage with other pigs milling around her. As other pigs are taken to slaughter, she remains lying on the floor. She struggles to her feet as a worker approaches in the third clip but by the fourth, she is once again lying down. She walks towards the exit but falls down twice. Our second camera records her entering the round pen in the race. She limps in and sits down immediately. As they are loaded into the stun pen, she falls again. Once more, she is not stunned immediately but sits by the chute as another stunned pig is dragged over the top of her. She is then stunned.

Under WASK, as before, sick or disabled animals should be kept separate from other animals and should be killed immediately and where they lie. If possible to do so – and it does not cause additional pain or suffering – the animal can be moved using a trolley but must be slaughtered immediately. In addition, WASK states:
The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement or lairaging of animals shall ensure that no person drags any animal which has been stunned or killed over any other animal which has not been stunned or killed.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 2 (f))
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

Section 4: Dead Pig for Slaughter (12:03)

On 28th April, a pig we believe to be dead was dragged into the stun pen by a hook in her mouth. No stun was administered, indicating that she was not alive, and yet she was shackled and hoisted, and – at the periphery of the second clip – the slaughterman can clearly be seen taking the knife to her throat. A dead pig should have been disposed of separately and not sent for human consumption. A live pig cannot be dragged to a place of slaughter and should have been stunned.

Section 5: Stunning (13:02)

Pigs are stunned electrically. Electrified tongs should be placed on either side of the animals’ heads so that a current passes directly through the brain, causing the animals to become unconscious. They should remain unconscious throughout. Electrical stunning is reversible and so it is imperative that their throats are cut as soon after stunning as is possible – recommended no more than 15 seconds. In most cases – but not all – this ‘stun-to-stick’ interval was achieved.

The Humane Slaughter Association describes best practice:
“The electrodes should be applied correctly, midway between the eye and the ear, so that they span the brain. Firm pressure should be applied to the electrodes to reduce contact resistance. Since the animals must be bled immediately after the stun, only commence the stunning when there is manpower to carry out the bleeding in a timely manner. The current should be applied for at least 3 seconds.”
http://www.hsa.org.uk/Information/Slaughter/Pig%20Slaughter.html

All too often we witnessed sloppy tong positioning, which meant: the electrodes were unlikely to span the brain; lacklustre pressure (often with the apparent intention of bringing a pig to the ground, rather than stunning her); and brief initial stuns.

We filmed inside the stun pen for two consecutive days in April and saw at least four different men stunning the pigs. Three appeared to be incompetent and callous, allowing pigs to suffer unnecessarily on many occasions. The fourth appeared more conscientious than his colleagues but still made serious errors. We have included 15 examples of the many poor stuns we witnessed.

Clip 1: The stun operator twice fails to make proper contact with this pig’s head, leaving her screaming in pain and falling to the ground as she experiences two major electric shocks.

Clip 2: The pain experienced by this young pig as, once again, the stun operator fails to make lasting contact, is clear to see.

Clip 3: The stun operator lets go of this pig once she hits the floor. She tries to stand up, indicating that she, too, is not stunned but has only experienced an electric shock.

Clip 4: The stun operator appears more interested in moving the pig towards him using the tongs than achieving a stun. The animal receives two electric shocks before the tongs are applied for an appropriate duration – albeit in a position not recommended by the Humane Slaughter Association (see above).

Clip 5: This pig is brought to the floor with an electric shock but the stun operator again loses contact. The pig stands up, screaming. Instead of administering a second stun straight away, the stun operator allows this pig to suffer and switches his attention to another pig.

Clip 6: This pig is brought to the ground by an electric shock delivered through her face. The electrodes must by law span the brain. Clearly they do not in this case, and the pig’s suffering is apparent.

Clip 7: As above.

Clip 8: Despite the tongs being placed on this sow’s head for a long duration, it is likely that she is not unconscious. She kicks the shackle off. The stun is stopped only when a pig runs between the worker and the pig being stunned and contact is broken. Whether she is sufficiently stunned is questionable.

Clip 9: This sow receives a painful electric shock before she is properly stunned.

Clip 10: This pig is brought to the ground with the tongs but lies screaming until a proper stun is administered.

Clip 11: As above.

Clip 12: The stun operator adjusts the tongs at least four times at the start of this clip but the pig is still kicking very hard. He drops the tongs when another pig pushes between him and the pig being stunned. He stands on the body of the pig as she lies kicking and climbs over her. According to the Humane Slaughter Association, there are two stages indicative of a good electrical stun: ‘tonic’ and ‘clonic’ (See http://www.hsa.org.uk/Information/Slaughter/Pig%20Slaughter.html for additional information on stunning.) There is no clear two-stage process with this pig, indicating that the stun may not have been effective. There is no improvement in the technique of the stun operator with the next pig. He chooses a pig who is sandwiched between two others, and makes contact for a very brief time before the tongs slip and she falls between the other two pigs. Instead of stunning her properly, she is shackled before a proper stun is administered and that stun also appears ineffective (possibly due to poor maintenance of the equipment or, perhaps, because the tongs are not spanning the brain). The pig kicks and leaps, as the workers yell ‘Yee-ha’.

Clip 13: The worker tries to make contact with a pig but delivers only a painful electric shock. The pig wanders around the pen, bumping into the hoist and screaming before she is caught again. The second stun is equally ineffective – she is just brought to the ground screaming. A third stun is administered.

Clip 14: This pig is brought to the group but appears not to be properly stunned. As other pigs get in the way and contact is broken, the stun operator applies the electrodes to the body of the pig in a jabbing motion. This has the effect of making the back legs shoot out, which makes shackling easier, but it does not stun the animals. Instead, it just delivers a shock through the body.

Clip 15: The workers struggle to get the shackle onto this pig because he is kicking so hard. There are no clear tonic and clonic phases of stunning, indicating, perhaps, that this stun is deficient (see http://www.hsa.org.uk/Resources/Publications/Technical%20Notes/TN17.pdf).

Poorly maintained equipment or the application of tongs so that they do not span the brain could be the reason.

WASK states:
No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, electrodes to stun any animal unless–
(a) the electrodes are so placed that they span the brain, enabling the current to pass through it;
(b) appropriate measures are taken to ensure that there is good electrical contact; and
(c) the strength and duration of the current used is such that the animal is immediately rendered unconscious and remains so until it is dead.
(Schedule 5, Part II, paragraph 8 (a,b,c))
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/5/made

Typical group of young pigs being stunned (18:15)

The stun operator in this sequence is the one we deem most competent of the four we filmed.

This group typifies the stunning of young pigs at Cheale Meats Ltd. Nine pigs are introduced to the stun pen, which makes it crowded and, at times, chaotic.
The first pig is brought down on top of another, who is squealing. The tongs are used to manoeuvre the second pig when instead the focus should be on giving an effective stun. The stun operator gets away with it this time but on other occasions, the contact (and the law) is broken and the animal is not properly stunned. It’s difficult to shackle the second pig as other pigs are standing over her. This pig is dragged over the top of two conscious pigs – which is a breach of WASK.* While the third pig is being stunned, a scared pig almost knocks another animal over. This same scared pig ends up on top of the shackled pig as she is hoisted upwards. She is caught next (4th) and is also dragged over the top of two conscious pigs. The tongs are applied to the 5th pig’s head and then released, and applied and released again, as the stun operator uses the tongs to lever the pig down. He should, instead, be concentrating on causing an effective stun. This is a breach of WASK. **

There is a short break while the workers wait for more shackle hooks to be delivered.

The contact is not made cleanly with the 6th pig, who screams as he is brought down.

The 8th pig has a large swelling on his abdomen – possibly a tumour or an abscess.

The chute remains covered in blood throughout.

* WASK states:
The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement or lairaging of animals shall ensure that no person drags any animal which has been stunned or killed over any other animal which has not been stunned or killed.
(Schedule 3, Part II, paragraph 2 (f))
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

** WASK states:
No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, electrodes to stun any animal unless–
(a) the electrodes are so placed that they span the brain, enabling the current to pass through it;
(b) appropriate measures are taken to ensure that there is good electrical contact; and
(c) the strength and duration of the current used is such that the animal is immediately rendered unconscious and remains so until it is dead.

(Schedule 5, Part II, paragraph 8 )
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/5/made

Typical group of cull sows being stunned (20:58)

Cull sows are typically brought in up to four at a time. The technique of this stun operator is clearly deficient. He attaches the electrodes behind the ears of the first sow – which is unlikely to span her brain – and brings her to the ground, where he lets go. He then applies the tongs from the top of her head to below her chin, a position not recommended by the Humane Slaughter Association.

The stun operator grabs at the second pig who falls through the tongs, with her mouth open as she thrashes on the floor. The electrodes are applied to her snout – which would not stun her, as this does not span the brain – and then applied to the top of her head and underside of her chin.

As the third sow falls to the ground, the tongs slide round her face – the right electrode starts behind her ear and ends up below it. The last pig is in the way, which makes shackling difficult. She has a sizeable growth on her chest, which can be seen as she is hoisted.

The stun operator impatiently and unwisely attempts to stun the fourth pig as the third one is hoisted in front of her. Predictably, contact is lost. The final position of the tongs is from the top of her snout to below her chin – a position that may not be spanning the brain.

Section 6: Violence (22:06)

A. Attacks on the heads and faces (22.14):

In the lairage and in the race it was commonplace for pigs to be hit around their heads and faces with the paddles. Sometimes, the paddle was turned on its side and the sharp edge used, presumably to cause maximum pain. In the last two clips, the worker hits pigs in the face, even when the door is closed and so there is nowhere for them to go.

WASK states:
No person shall strike, or apply pressure to, any particularly sensitive part of the body of any animal.
(Schedule 3, Part III, paragraph 12)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

B. Attacks on the body (24:47)

Paddles and sticks are legally used to beat the frightened animals through the system. At times we filmed workers just clapping their hands to move the pigs along and this worked effectively and kept the animals much calmer. Despite this, use of the sticks is commonplace. Workers also commonly use the sharp edge of a paddle to cause additional pain.

C. Dragging pigs by their tails is illegal (26:08):

WASK states:
No person shall lift or drag, or cause or permit to be lifted or dragged, any animal by the head, horns, ears, feet, tail, fleece or any other part of its body in such a way as to cause it unnecessary pain or suffering.
(Schedule 3, Part III, paragraph 7)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

D. Electric Goads (26.40)

Electric goads may be used legally if applied to the muscles of the hindquarters of adult pigs, but only if the animal has space in front of her in which to move, and so long as the shocks last no more than two seconds. At Cheale’s we filmed an electric goad being used on animals who had no room ahead of them in which to move. It was used on the flanks of the animals, on one animal’s face and on another’s anus. All these uses are painful and illegal. The pig who was goaded in the face can be seen to have trouble standing afterwards.

WASK states:
No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, to make any animal move any instrument which administers an electric shock, except that such an instrument which has been designed for the purpose of making an animal move may be used on adult bovine animals and adult pigs which refuse to move, provided that–
(a) the shocks last no more than two seconds each and are adequately spaced out;
(b) the animal has room ahead of it in which to move; and
(c) such shocks are applied only to the muscles of the hindquarters.
(Schedule 3, Part III, paragraph 11)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

E. Using the gate as a weapon (28:04):

Workers moving the pigs into the round pen, and from there into the stun pen, often use the gate with force to move the animals, often knocking them over or hitting them in the face.

WASK states:
The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement of any animals shall ensure that every animal is moved with care and, when necessary, that animals are led individually.
(Schedule 3, Part III, paragraph 9)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/3/made

F. Much of the violence is counterproductive (28.46):

There were many examples of workers startling pigs by suddenly beating them, even when they were moving in the right direction. This caused them to run back from where they had come. We witnessed such counterproductive violence regularly and are surprised that this has not been addressed. These three clips provide examples.

Section 7: Pig ‘stuck’ on stun room floor (29:36)

We do not know why this pig – who appeared healthy – had her throat cut on the floor of the stun pen. She was the last in her group to be stunned but does not appear to have been singled out for this treatment. The stun operator, having stunned her, went to get a knife from the slaughterman. He cut her throat rather inexpertly, taking several goes while the slaughterman looked on from a distance. She bled out on the floor, and was only then shackled and hoisted.

At the end of the clip, the door is left open and a pig looks in inquisitively. The slaughterman throws a shackle hook at her, thankfully missing, and shouts ‘yeah, you fucker.’

Section 8: Undue stress (32:23)

WASK states:
No person engaged in the movement, lairaging, restraint, stunning, slaughter or killing of animals shall cause any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering to any animal.
(Part 1, Regulation 4)
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/contents/made

While ‘avoidable excitement’ is open to interpretation, there are some procedures at Cheale’s that cause unnecessary stress to the animals and could be avoided.

Clip 1: A drain is situated in the round pen in the race area. While pigs are incarcerated in the round pen, the stun area is washed down, causing a mass of bloody water to wash into the pen and over the feet of the pigs.

Clip 2: A pig has her throat cut at the top of the chute inside the stun pen, causing blood to cascade into the pen. Another group of pigs are brought into the bloodied room, which should have been cleaned first.

Clip 3: A pig who has fallen from the shackle line and is covered in blood from lying in the blood pit, is dragged back into the stun pen where three live pigs are waiting to be stunned. This happened on more than one occasion.

Section 9: Equipment problems? (34:08)

On several occasions throughout both days that we filmed inside the stun pen, we recorded smoke emanating from where the electrodes made contact with the pigs’ skin. Smoke is produced when the contact between the stunning tong electrodes and the animal is very small, for example if only one of one electrode’s teeth makes contact with the animal due to the profile of the animal’s head or because the electrodes are not clean. When the current flows into the animal through this small contact area, localised heating occurs, causing burning and smoke as a result.

It does not necessarily mean that the applied current will be significantly reduced but there may be a build-up of carbon on the electrodes, which could increase contact resistance for subsequent animals. The solution is to regularly clean the electrodes.

On some occasions after smoke was seen, workers did attempt to clean the electrodes, but not always. And even when they did, there were times when smoke could still be seen emanating from pigs’ heads. This may mean that they were not stunned properly. The first pig we have shown does not appear to be stunned properly.

It is an offence under WASK to fail to maintain the electrodes properly:
The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard shall ensure that–
(a) its construction, facilities, equipment and operation are such as to spare animals any avoidable excitement, pain, injury or suffering;
(e) any instrument, restraining equipment, other equipment or installation which is used for stunning, slaughter or killing is designed, constructed and maintained so as to facilitate rapid and effective stunning, slaughter or killing in accordance with these Regulations; and

(Schedule 2, Part I, paragraph 1)

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1995/731/schedule/2/made

The Humane Slaughter Association states:
‘To ensure that electrical stunning works effectively, the stunning electrodes should be kept in a good state of repair. The equipment should be tested daily to make sure that it delivers at least 1.3 A at a voltage of at least 260V under a load of similar impedance to a pig’s head. All stunning equipment must have an ammeter and a voltmeter that are easily read by the slaughterman during stunning. The electrodes must be cleaned regularly during stunning (after every 20-25 animals) and must be stored in a cleaning station or on a wall bracket when not in use.’
http://www.hsa.org.uk/Information/Slaughter/Pig%20Slaughter.html

A Note on Camera Positions

On 28 & 29 March 2011, Animal Aid had two cameras operating: one in the ‘race’ and one on the slaughter line. The ‘race’ is the area just outside of the stun pen. Here, groups of pigs are herded into a ‘round pen’ before being brought in for stunning.

On 27 & 28 April 2011, Animal Aid had three cameras running: in the lairage, in the race and in the stun pen. Because of the multiple cameras, we were able to track individual pigs who were brought from the lairage, through the race and into the stun pen. This proved particularly important when tracking injured pigs – see section 3 of the film (02:33).

We filmed around 100 hours of footage inside Cheale Meats. While there were many incidents of legal breaches and poor practice, we have shown just a few examples in this edited film.

Note on Legality

Animal Aid is a legal, peaceful organisation. We gained access to this slaughterhouse without breaking in, planted cameras and returned to retrieve them. We caused no damage, took no property and left nothing behind. The first that the slaughterhouse owners would have known of our filming is when they were contacted by the authorities investigating the cruelty.

 

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