Gruesome results of an investigation at an animal farm in northern Spain. The case is even more shocking because it is one of the former suppliers of a well-known supermarket chain that boasts an animal welfare certificate.
Investigators from the Animal Welfare Observatory say this is one of the worst cases of animal abuse revealed so far in Spain and are taking the case to court on suspicion of animal cruelty and misleading advertising of products from the farm.
The photos, which came to light thanks to the Spanish organization Animal Welfare Observatory, were taken between June and September 2023 on a pig farm consisting of 5 pig farms with approximately 5,000 pigs, located in Quintanilla del Coco, Burgos, belonging to the mayor of the municipality. The investigation report shows, among other things, extremely skinny sows, with visible spines. Others have a serious uterine prolapse and one has a visible breast lump. Constant exposure to tight cages causes purulent wounds and gangrene due to friction against the bars.
In gestation sow cages, a piglet was observed trembling because it was stuck on a metal bar floor. Dozens of piglets were recorded in agony, others dead, even in an advanced state of decomposition and dismembered. Some have serious malformations, hernias and bleeding wounds. In one of the shots, a worker drinks beer and pours some of it on the piglets.
Unimaginable suffering of animals on the farm
Pigs suffer from swollen legs that prevent them from moving, others suffer from serious hernias, for example one pig has a huge hernia on its belly, weighing about 7 kilograms. It moves with great difficulty, dragging the gigantic growth behind it. Such serious skin lesions can lead to dramatic infection of internal organs. In another pig, a large hematoma was observed on the right ear. The photos also show oozing abscesses and prolapsed anuses in dozens of pigs, while others have skin lesions with mange.
Many of them have bitten ears and gangrenous lesions on their tails, which are symptoms of cannibalism. An investigator reported to the organization that he observed “several pigs eating another pig, which was still alive. They were biting the elbow of its front right leg, which was bleeding. Even the water in the trough was stained red.”
Animal carcasses on a farm that was a supplier to Lidl
The farm from which the materials come is extremely unhygienic. Countless animal carcasses in various stages of decomposition were recorded in the corridors. Drinkers are often empty. Rats eat the bodies of sows in cages, and pig feed is full of their feces. Two large containers with piglet bodies, placenta remains and lots of flies are visible. Under the farm floor there is slurry infested with larvae and worms. Inside the object was a cat eating the decomposing body of a pig. According to an animal protection organization, the presence of these animals on the farm means a zoonotic risk of transmitting diseases such as salmonella or leptospirosis to humans.
In the office associated with the farm’s operations, next to beer bottles, there is a rotting pig’s head, a dead piglet and the remains of a spine. At the same time, there are two “Welfair” certificates on the desk. This is an independent animal welfare certification that aims to guarantee the welfare of farm animals. Poultry farms linked to supermarket supplier Lidl and condemned in 2022 by the Animal Welfare Observatory have lost their Welfair approval, and one of them is under judicial investigation for alleged offenses of animal cruelty and risk to public health.
The camera recorded the moment when pigs were loaded onto a truck to the slaughterhouse. The operator responsible repeatedly beats them with a hammer-like tool and hits them with an electric stun gun.
The case went to court
The owners and operators of the farm were charged by the Animal Welfare Observatory and will appear in court in Lerma (Burgos) for the alleged crime of animal cruelty with aggravating circumstances leading to their death. The organization demands the closure of the farm, the dismissal of the mayor and a sentence for poor animal management. The organization also condemned the animal cargo management company for allegedly advertising misleading public communications about high levels of animal welfare.
– The Spanish pig horror is one of the most serious cases of animal abuse I have ever witnessed. The suffering of the pigs on this farm is extreme, and many of them die a slow and painful death. We demand immediate action by the institutions and companies involved to close the farm, emphasizes Karolina Kunda-Kuwieckij from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation.
International animal rescue campaign
The Albert Schweitzer Foundation would like to remind you that over twenty animal welfare organizations in 11 European countries are participating in the #LidlChickenScandal campaign. These organizations are trying to persuade the supermarket chain to join the European Chicken Commitment (ECC), an initiative to improve chicken welfare operating in 36 countries and created by international animal welfare organizations.
So far, over 300 European retail chains and companies have joined the European Chicken Commitment. Lidl, despite an intensive campaign and numerous activities undertaken to convince it to sign the ECC, has still not decided to take this step.
Lidl Polska response:
Lidl is firmly against animal cruelty. The suffering shown in the recordings is shocking and unacceptable to us.
We immediately contacted our supplier, who confirmed that he had terminated business cooperation with the described pig farm already in 2022, due to the loss of its animal welfare certificate in July 2022. The last delivery of products from the farm in question to our supplier took place at the end of September 2022. Our supplier also confirmed that none of his suppliers obtained animals and/or meat from the farm described in the article.
According to the information we have obtained, it cannot be ruled out that pork from the described pig farm has been used in products from Campofrio since October 2022.
Lidl is aware of its responsibility. Wherever our actions have an impact on people, animals and the environment, we want to use our opportunities and introduce positive changes. Lidl has been committed to further developing animal welfare standards for years and will continue to do so. As a reliable partner, we want to constantly improve breeding conditions. We clearly see the need to transform this area and will continue to work intensively on designing our range in cooperation with our partners and suppliers throughout the supply chain – with customer needs in mind. All suppliers of fresh meat and poultry of Lidl Polska’s own brand have International Featured Standard (IFS) or British Retail Consortium (BRC) certificates.
In our purchasing policies, we describe the specifications, objectives and specific guidelines for purchasing animal products for all our own brands. Our own brand Sol y Mar, existing since 2013 in the field of promotional items, is also subject to these requirements.
Head of Corporate Communications and CSR