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Violence against lambs

An investigation by Essere Animali in Sardinia reveals a widespread system of illegalities and abuse in the lamb production chain. Help us stop this violence.

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Our investigators used hidden cameras to document lamb production in Sardinia, the region with the highest number of sheep raised in Italy.
They inspected twenty farms in all provinces, filming practices that are banned because they cause animal suffering as well as shock confessions from farmers who admit to killing lambs in times of low demand for their meat, as it does not make economic sense to raise them.
Serious irregularities were also found in a large slaughterhouse, despite the presence of veterinarians. The lambs, only a month old, are forced to watch their fellows die. Some have to endure the pain of electrical stunning twice as the workers wait too long to slit their throats and they regain consciousness in the meantime, while others are killed while still conscious.

We reported those responsible to the authorities and also involved the Health Protection Agency (ATS Sardinia) to report the widespread diffusion of the illegalities found. In order to achieve real change, however, the animals will also need your help.

At Easter, and every day of the year. Choose not to eat them.

WHAT WE DOCUMENTED

HUNG BY THEIR LEGS

Weighing animals by suspending them, although a widespread practice, is illegal. This is done before the lambs are transported to the slaughterhouse and they can even be left hanging by their legs for up to ten minutes, while an ear is pierced and a tag is applied. However, the law prohibits hanging animals by the legs as it causes them pain and stress.

Graphic images Click to watch

SLAUGHTERED WHILE STILL CONSCIOUS

Poor slaughter management causes serious suffering to the animals. Avoidable pain or anxiety should be avoided by law, but lambs see their fellows killed in front of them. The slaughter should take place immediately after effective stunning, but after just 50 seconds the lambs will regain consciousness. If the worker notices, he will stun them again with an electric shock. Others have their throats slit while they are still conscious.

SEPARATED FROM THEIR MOTHERS

The production of lamb is closely linked to the production of sheep milk, which is mainly used for cheese. In order to produce milk, sheep must have given birth to lambs. If these are female, they will be reared for milk just like their mothers. If they are male, they will be killed for meat just 30 days after birth. When they are transported to the slaughterhouse, the animals cry out in distress at the separation.

AUDIO SHOCK FROM FARMERS

Our investigators filmed several farmers confirming that they kill lambs in times of low demand for meat, because it is not profitable to raise them. This is a serious crime that we have reported to the authorities.

The numbers

Resource: Istat 2020 - BDN 2020

Our investigations in defence of lambs

Inside a slaughterhouse where lambs are killed for Easter

April 2019

Former slaughterhouse workers also contact us to ask us to disseminate images that they have filmed, to initiate a debate about the brutality of a process that is hidden from public view. The video shows the slaughter of hoggets, animals just a few weeks older than lambs. These are also killed in increased numbers at Easter.

The terrible slaughter of lambs for Easter

March 2018

By means of hard and courageous work, our investigators placed multiple hidden cameras in two lamb slaughterhouses located in the Marche region. The footage once again reveals practices and actions that contravene the law, with animals roughly unloaded from trucks, stunned using ineffective instruments and having their throats slit in full view of each other.

For lambs, this is Easter

April 2017

Broadcast by TG1 and seen by millions of people, this investigation that took place in various Italian slaughterhouses documents the slaughter of lambs in the run-up to Easter. Our investigators filmed various violations of the law including group slaughter and inadequate stunning and restraint practices, with animals struggling in terror.

Behind the walls of a lamb slaughterhouse

March 2015

For years, we have been showing the world that slaughter is a cruel operation that causes extreme suffering. We observed various irregularities in this first investigation inside an Italian slaughterhouse: the lambs are caught roughly and wait their turn without being able to escape the sight of the killing of their peers.

HELP US TO SHOW THE WORLD WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON!

Thanks to our team of investigators, millions of people are discovering the reality of abuse and cruelty in farms and slaughterhouses. Our work saves animals and needs your support.

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read the petition

FOR A REFORM OF ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS 

Directed to

Presidente del Consiglio, Mario Draghi

Ministro delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali, Stefano Patuanelli

Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare, Roberto Cingolani

Ministero della Salute, Roberto Speranza

Presidente della Camera dei Deputati, Roberto Fico

Presidente del Senato, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati

In recent years, Essere Animali has disseminated numerous investigations carried out inside intensive farms and slaughterhouses in Italy — some of which involved collaboration with reputable international media — in order to document the conditions of animals raised for food.

During these investigations, carried out by means of thorough monitoring using hidden cameras and workers infiltrated inside farms, violations of animal protection legislation and the regulations of the Criminal Code were carefully filmed.

Essere Animali investigations have revealed:

  • Violence inflicted by factory farm staff while handling animals or when animals resist treatment, such as blows with iron pipes, improper use of electric tasers, lifting “downed cows” using a forklift, and kicking and throwing small animals.
  • Mutilations carried out without anesthesia and analgesia, in the absence of a veterinarian and even beyond the age permitted by law.
  • Systematic tail docking of piglets, an illegal but widespread practice in almost all Italian farms.
  • Animals left to die of starvation or brutally killed by farm workers, without applying the correct guidelines concerning emergency killing of sick animals.
  • Group killings inside slaughterhouses, with animals witnessing the deaths of other individuals, and use of ineffective stunning practices.

Several complaints have been filed to the relevant authorities for these abuses, but the frequency of such episodes is worrying as they were filmed in almost all the farms we visited. These farms were chosen on a sample basis throughout the country, including suppliers of PDO products.

Alongside these legal violations, Essere Animali investigations have also shown breeding types and practices which, although now legal, are the cause of undisputed physical and psychological suffering for animals, including:

  • Use of cages in which animals spend much or all of their lives.
  • High density when animals are raised “on the ground” or in enclosures.
  • Surgical castration of piglets and debeaking of hens.
  • Baby chicks, which are considered useless for breeding purposes, are ground up alive.
  • Separation of calves from their mothers at birth for milk production purposes.

I am therefore calling for a process of legislative reform to be undertaken which:

  • Ban use of cages, even partial use.
  • Ban of any mutilation or killing of male chicks if they are perfectly healthy but considered non-productive by the livestock industry.
  • Stop public subsidies to the livestock sector.
  • Increase penalties for the mistreatment of animals and for other violations, including withdrawal of authorizations and disqualification from activity in the most serious cases.
  • Set up a monitoring system that is more effective than the one currently in use, for farms, during transportation, and in the slaughtering phases.
  • Reconsideration of stocking densities, permitting animals more space to move, even outdoors, and with the inclusion of environmental enrichments.
  • Provides for farming systems that allow animals to meet their ethological needs according to age and species, in consultation with animal rights organizations.
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