40 piggeries exposed so far: we've closed 2, with 38 still open. Know of one near you? Let us know.
Golden Grove Piggery is Blantyre Farms' breeder facility, with two large sheds of farrowing crates, one large shed of open-backed sow stalls, an artificial insemination shed ("the rape shed"), and group housing sheds. Blantyre Farms is owned by Edwina Beveridge.
Golden Grove Piggery was exposed by Animal Liberation ACT and NSW in November 2013, and together with Dead Horse Gully Piggery (Blantyre's growing-out facility) is one of the largest facilities we've investigated, with 2200 sows and up to 25000 pigs in total on site at any one time (source: ABC).
In the farrowing crates, sows showed signs of distress, exhibiting stereotypies (abnormal repetitive behaviours) such as bar biting, rubbing repetitively on bars and protruding edges, prolonged pressing and pushing, head bowing, weaving, stepping back and forward and 'sham' chewing. Many have great difficulty standing up or lying down due to weakness, the tiny size of their cages, and the slippery metal floor. Some pigs had less than two inches of space in front or behind them, and all were unable to take more than one or two steps forwards or backwards, and were unable to turn around. They are kept here for upwards of six weeks at a time, as is the industry standard.
David Hewson, the manager of Blantyre Farms, is seen on hidden camera footage repeatedly beating and jabbing sows with both ends of an oar-like implement, in order to get them to stand up - he does this to every sow he finds lying down, every day he is working in the farrowing crate shed. This is often done in full view of other employees. Whenever sows see him coming, they are visibly scared and try to stand up, but often fail to do so in time.
Meanwhile, he has been quoted in The Land newspaper as saying that animal activists who trespass on the farm to film the pigs' conditions are "doing more harm than good and that upsets [him]", and that an additional 33 piglets died because of activists when the "unsettled sows were spooked and scared". No evidence was ever provided for these piglets' deaths, and The Land printed it without questioning it or seeking evidence. On the night in question, activists did not even make it inside the farrowing shed, as they were ambushed and hunted by up to eight employees of the farm. Handheld footage shows sows completely calm as they are being filmed by activists; in stark contrast to their behaviour in the presence of David Hewson.
Furthermore, a large number of dead and dying piglets were found at Golden Grove Piggery on each night of footage obtained by Animal Liberation. Many of these were simply left in the aisles, often in full view of their mothers who could see through the bars beneath their feeding trough. A number of piglets were killed or severely injured by "overlay", where the sows lie on top of their piglets, crushing them. The industry claims farrowing crates prevent overlay. Yet the footage from Blantyre Farms completely undermines such a claim. The footage shows that where sows have difficulty standing or lying and cannot move away from their young, and where piglets have little room of their own, overlay is inevitable.
Workers at Blantyre Farms' Golden Grove Piggery cut off the tails and teeth of piglets, and cut sections out of their ears, all without pain relief. Tails are discarded in the aisles and sometimes even end up in the food trolley. Tail cutting is performed by the majority of piggeries in Australia as an attempt to prevent cannibalism (tail biting) once the pigs are moved into overcrowded "grower" sheds which completely lack stimulation. Despite the tail cutting, Blantyre's grower facility, DHG, has a severe cannibalism problem.
When moving piglets between farrowing crates ("fostering") or taking them from their mothers to be moved across the road to Dead Horse Gully (DHG) Piggery, workers pick them up by one leg and throw them into trolleys, the piglets often landing head-first or crashing into others already in the trolley.
Blantyre has an artificial insemination "rape shed" in which six boars (male pigs) and a number of sows are kept. Semen is "extracted" from the boars by workers. Sows due to be re-impregnated (shortly after being moved out of the farrowing crates) are then moved into small cages approximately the size of sow stalls, and the semen is forcefully inserted into them by the workers via tubes called Pork Storks. This process sometimes needs to be repeated one or a few times before the sow becomes pregnant, at which stage she is moved into the large group housing sheds, which features row upon row of open-backed sow stalls, where the sows can move out into a small corridor between the stalls, but must return to the stalls for food and water or to avoid being attacked by other sows, as is common due to the overcrowded, unstimulating conditions. The air in this shed is filthy, and for the sixteen weeks of their pregnancy the sows remain trapped here without sunlight, on concrete floor where they must live amongst each others' urine and faeces (in natural conditions, pigs will urinate and defecate far away from where they sleep and eat).
Blantyre has been praised for being the first piggery in Australia to turn its manure into carbon credits, earning as much as $150,000 a year from biogas.
Golden Grove and DHG were formerly owned by Windridge (Dugald and Jean Walker), who sold it to their daughter Edwina Beveridge (Blantyre Farms) in 2007.