Pigs with bleeding wounds, abscesses, inflammation in the eyes and legs, and some dead or decomposing animals in the barn: horrific recordings of sick and seriously injured animals from pig farms have led to investigations by the prosecutor and appeals to politicians. The German Animal Welfare Office published the graphic material on Wednesday and denounced the blatant abuses on fattening farms. The registrations are said to come from six companies in North Rhine-Westphalia, Münsterland and East Westphalia – and in one case from a company in Lower Saxony.
All of them are suppliers of Westfleisch, one of the largest pig slaughterhouses in Germany with several million animals slaughtered annually and sales in the billions. The German Animal Welfare Association appealed to politicians and lawmakers to look at the images: “The lack of oversight mechanisms by veterinary authorities, treatment by vets, transport companies, slaughterhouses and, ultimately, the food vending trade, allowed these unspeakable torments.” Human rights activists and authorities have repeatedly cited unacceptable conditions and investigators have been called on to take action.
Advertisements from the German Animal Welfare Office
In the current case, the Munster Public Prosecutor is investigating possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act against three pig farmers. Chief Prosecutor Martin Potzenhardt said on Wednesday that the starting point were announcements from the German Animal Welfare Office. Ads are accompanied by USB sticks with the images currently being scanned.
“Primary suspicion of violating the animal welfare law”
The public prosecutor’s office in Detmold said video material was received at the beginning of July showing animals with “wounds that have not been treated or not treated properly”. “After viewing the video material, there was an initial suspicion of a violation of the Animal Welfare Act,” a spokesperson for one of the companies said. The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Paderborn is conducting investigations into two other cases.
Westfleisch takes the allegations very seriously
The Westfleisch group of companies has announced several actions. When asked by the German news agency dpa, Westflich stressed that allegations against individual animal owners were taken seriously and that they were investigated “with all determination”. “Until all allegations are finally clarified, we reserve the right to take penalties up to and including termination of supply contracts.”
Affected companies should be examined
The company in Münster now wants to check every affected company. In the short term, all delivery companies must also be vetted and conditions documented there – also so that “the overall excellent work done by our more than 3,000 contract partners is not questioned”. Westfleisch will also expand its control network. Animals unfit for transportation and slaughter are not generally accepted for slaughter.
Animals abused with stun guns?
According to the allegations, the animals were said to have been mistreated with electric batons during transport in some cases. According to the Animal Welfare Office, some feedlots are said to have received six-figure EU subsidies, according to Jan Befer, head of the German Animal Welfare Office. The German Animal Welfare Office is a non-profit association that, according to its own statements, wants to draw attention to violations in factory breeding, primarily through photos and film materials. The photos were leaked to the Animal Protection Bureau in the past few months. He said the seven companies were highlighted as positive examples on Westfleisch’s website. “We could go into a random walk to 30 other companies and maybe find similar circumstances.”
Animal Welfare Association appeals to politicians
“The images show extreme attitudes, but these animal welfare violations are rooted in the system,” said the president of the German Animal Welfare Association, Thomas Schroeder. “Even the most prepared farmer cannot make any lasting improvements to the conditions of warm stable housing, which are contrary to the welfare of animals but are permitted by law.” Politicians must ensure better framework conditions. “Instead of banning systematic cruelty to animals in warm homes, the legislation continues to tolerate that pigs kept exclusively on slatted floors are at very high risk of contracting disease, injuring themselves and developing behavioral disorders.”
The recordings are ‘horrific’
Frontal magazine quoted one of the farmers criticizing the recordings as “appalling”. “In my view, we have done everything possible.” Suddenly the pigs bit their tails wide, and the infection spread quickly. Feed analysis, autopsy and contaminant measurements were performed but the problem was not resolved for a long time with the veterinarian.
Anonymous indicators of violations early in the summer
From the NSW Department of Agriculture, the affected groups were said to have already received anonymous information about animal welfare violations in early summer. Then there were unannounced controls. “Reported violations have been confirmed in four out of six cases,” a spokesman in Dusseldorf said. The majority of these violations are when dealing with sick or injured animals – such as veterinary treatment, emergency killing, or failure to separate these animals.
Animal Welfare Office: Promises Years Ago – ‘Nothing Has Improved’
According to the ministry, the responsible authorities were keen to cancel the situation. Criminal proceedings have also been initiated. In addition, video recordings of animal rights activists will now be evaluated and analyzed. Jan Beaver has little hope regarding pig fattening: “There have been great promises for years. The state refers to the federal government, the federal government to the European Union. Working groups have been set up and tightened controls have been announced, but nothing has improved.”