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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

SHEEPS

6.4 millions raised in Italy

LAMBS

2.3 millions slaughtered in Italy

SHEEPS

2.9 millions raised in Sardinia

LAMBS

548,000 slaughtered in Sardinia

SHEEPS

377,000 slaughtered in Italy for 2019 Easter

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

Ministro dell’Agricoltura e della Sovranità alimentare

Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Sicurezza Energetica

Ministero della Salute

In recent years Essere Animali has published several investigations carried out inside Italian factory farms and slaughterhouses, some realized in collaboration with important and influential Italian and international media, in order to document and denounce the conditions of animals bred for food to the Italian judicial authorities and institutions. During these investigations, violations of animal protection laws and criminal code regulations were filmed.

Essere Animali investigations have revealed:

  • violence inflicted by farm staff, such as blows with iron pipes on delicate and innervated points, improper use of electric tasers, lifting cows to the ground with a forklift truck, kicking and throwing small animals;
  • mutilations carried out without the use of anaesthesia and analgesia, without the presence of a veterinary, on animals over the age allowed by law, and the systematic cutting off of piglets’ tails, a practice that is illegal but widespread on almost all Italian farms;
  • agonising animals left to die of starvation or killed in a brutal manner by farm workers, without the application of the correct provisions on the emergency slaughter of sick animals;
  • animals transported for up to 30 hours in unsuitable means of transport, in distress and subjected to violence during loading and unloading;
  • animals subjected to group slaughter instead of being killed individually so that they do not see the death of their fellow animals, stunned in an inappropriate manner and with death occurring in agony.

Several complaints have been filed with the competent authorities for these mistreatments, but the frequency of such episodes, filmed in almost all of the farms under investigation chosen on a random basis throughout the country, even among suppliers of DOP products, prompts me to express my deep concern.
In addition to these law violations, Essere Animali’s investigations have also shown types and practices of livestock farming that, although now legal, cause unquestionable physical and psychological suffering to animals, thus intrinsically violating respect for the welfare of animals on farms, including:

  • use of cages in which animals spend most or all of their lives;
  • high densities when animals are reared ‘on the ground’ or in pens;
  • surgical castration of piglets and deboning of hens;
  • separation at birth of mothers from pups for milk production;
  • forced genetic selection, which produces animals with characteristics intrinsically contrary to animal welfare, such as fast-growing breeds.

I therefore call for a process of legislative reform that will:

  • progressively prohibits the use of cages;
  • prohibits all mutilation;
  • puts an end to public subsidies to the livestock sector;
  • brings about the tightening of sanctions for the mistreatment of animals and other violations of protection regulations, providing for the revocation of licence and banning from activity in the most serious cases;
  • establishes a control system on farms, during transport and at slaughterhouses that is absolutely more effective than the one adopted to date, with the use of CCTV cameras with AI systems and unannounced independent checks by public veterinary staff;
  • reformulates stocking densities, giving animals more space to move around, including outdoors, and adequate environmental enrichment;
  • ensures public funding for more sustainable food production and activities such as plant-based production and works to reduce the suffering of animals that will still be confined to slaughterhouses and farms in the coming years.
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