SPECIAL REPORT BY EUGENE COSTELLO: Calls have been renewed for EU laws regarding animal welfare to be overhauled or enforced more vigorously as shocking footage has emerged of appalling treatment of pigs on Spanish farms.
The footage, obtained by Tras Los Muros (Behind the Walls), was obtained in undercover visits in 2019 and 2020. It shows pigs left in various stages of decomposition, piglets encased in faeces and pigs covered with pus-infected sores.
NEGLECT: A pig from the footage engorged and in urgent need of veterinary care © TRAS LOS MUROS/Aitor Garmendia
It comes as Spain is poised to overtake Germany as the EU’s largest pork supplier and is being greeted with anger and hostility by organisations representing producers who appear to be more concerned with profit than documented abuses.
In 2019, Spain slaughtered a record 53 million pigs to satisfy an EU-wide demand for pork-related products including chorizo, tenderloin – secreto – and lard, to name but a few, a demand that is translated even into worldwide sales.
Tras Los Muros is an investigative project headed up by photo-journalist Aitor Garmendia, who led the undercover team to 30 pig farms in the regions of Aragón, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León, home to 17% of the country’s 86,000 pig farms.
CRUEL: More than a fifth of piglets die during the farrowing phase© TRAS LOS MUROS/Aitor Garmendia
To ascertain whether these were one-off situations, Tras los Muros investigators entered farms on more than occasion, said Garmendia. At one farm where they saw numerous pig carcasses, on their next visit three months later investigators found them in the same locations in advances stages of decomposition. “Nobody had taken them away,” said Garmendia.