Cruelty on a farm supplying the Beretta brand

By means of an undercover investigation, we revealed terrible violence on a pig farm supplying Beretta cured meats.

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For 6 weeks, one of our investigators worked at a farm supplying the Fratelli Beretta brand, documenting terrible violence against pigs – even sick pigs – and extremely poor sanitary conditions. Some of the footage was broadcast on TG1 and handed over to the competent authorities in order to lodge a complaint against those responsible.

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The images show a worker pulling out a pig’s teeth with pliers because he had been biting other pigs’ tails. A brutal and illegal operation, carried out without anaesthesia or subsequent treatment and which increases the possibility of having to resort to antibiotics. During transport, pigs are moved violently, kicked, hit with blunt objects, grabbed by the ears, lifted off the ground or thrown down by a tractor. As shown in the footage and confirmed by the words of the owner, whenever emergency kills on site are needed pigs are stunned using a captive bolt gun without immediately having their throats slit as required by law. This treatment causes pigs to endure interminable agony.

The sanitary conditions are also very worrying: the pigs are in constant contact with the wet floor that is covered with excrement. Their food is also contaminated with faeces, as the edges of the feeders are too low.

Help us to stop this cruelty: dozens of investigations we have carried out confirm that intensive farming causes suffering. Please choose a plant-based diet.

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Teeth
pulled out

A worker pulls out the teeth of a pig that had been biting the other pigs in his enclosure. The operation is carried out with pliers, without anaesthesia or subsequent treatment. In addition to being painful, this practice is also illegal.

Sick animals left untreated

Wounded and sick pigs are left to fend for themselves in the corridors without the intervention of a veterinarian. They are given neither food nor water and remain in contact with the other pigs until they starve to death.

Graphic images Click to watch

Brutal killings

The procedure for slaughtering severely ill pigs is carried out improperly and leads to terrible agony. The pigs are only stunned with a captive bullet gun, without cutting their throats and therefore prolonging their suffering as a result. The operation is carried out in the pens where the other pigs are present, subjecting them to extreme stress and with the risk of injury. Even the owner culls pigs incorrectly.

Appalling hygiene conditions

The pigs live on concrete floors, have no clean, dry litter and are forced to rest on their own excrement. The pens are bare, devoid of stimuli and the environmental enrichment is inadequate. The food, in the form of slop, mixes with the faeces because the feeders have sides that are too low and allow the animals to enter.

Systematic violence
of workers

Animals are handled with cruel methods, both by workers and the farm owner. Pigs are violently kicked and punched, hit wth iron bars, dragged by their ears or even unloaded brutally from a tractor’s front-end loader.

Our investigations in defence of pigs

Cruelty to pigs on a farm supplying "premium" Parma ham

May 2019

An investigator from Essere Animali worked undercover on a farm supplying “Prosciutto di Parma” (premium Parma ham), documenting violence and numerous incidences of illegal behaviour. In just a few weeks, using a hidden camera he filmed pigs being beaten and thrown around their pens, painful surgical operations carried out without anaesthesia and the macabre habit of throwing piglet’s testicles and tails into the feeding troughs of the sows. Read more.

Pigs caged and mutilated on Italian factory farms

March 2019

In Italy, 9 million pigs have their tails mutilated and males are castrated without anesthesia or pain relief. During pregnancy and birth, 500,000 sows are kept in cages so small that they cannot move at all. Such practices cause extreme suffering to these intelligent and sensitive animals and, in the case of tail-cutting, are also illegal. However, the problem is so widespread and structural that it is found on almost all farms (including PDO). By means of the #SosPig campaign, we urgently want to bring these cruel practices to an end. Sign the petition.

Pigs hammered to death, a devastating investigation

September 2018

One of Essere Animali’s investigators who worked undercover at a farm that supplies pigs for ‘Prosciutto di Parma’ (premium Parma ham) documented numerous incidences of violence and continuous violations of animal protection standards. Read more (italian)

High-cruelty ham

July 2017

Between February and June 2017, Essere Animali documented eight farms supplying pigs for Prosciutto di Parma (premium Parma ham): the images show animals in a state of serious suffering and situations of mistreatment that we promptly reported. It is not the first time that we have filmed such conditions. In December 2016, our video ‘Prosciutto Crudele’ (Cruel Ham), filmed inside a farm supplying the Consortium, sent shock waves through the country. Read more (italian)

#SOSPIG the campaign in defence of pigs

We have reported this farm to the authorities and will endeavour to ensure that all such cruel behaviour is recognised as the offence of animal abuse.

This is only part of our work. In fact, procedures that cause suffering to pigs but are legal, such as gestation cages for sows and the surgical castration of piglets, are often used on Italian farms. To put an end to these practices, in addition to tail cutting, an illegal mutilation that is nonetheless inflicted on all pigs reared in Italy, we have launched the #SOSpig campaign.

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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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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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