Pig Cruelty Shown At Swedish Farms

Updated 15:27

Swedish Radio News has published disturbing pictures taken at a pig farm by an animal rights group which show the sort of scenes of animal cruelty highlighted in Denmark back in May this year.

The Animal Rights Alliance say they have evidence of other farms carrying out flagrant breaches of Sweden's tough animal protection laws.

Swedes have always prided themselves that when it comes to meat, buying Swedish is best. Confidence has always been high in the stringent quality checks regarding the living conditions of animals raised at Swedish farms and their subsequent journey to the kitchen table.

Back in May this year Swedish Radio News broadcast a report that lambasted the cruel methods used to raise pigs in neighbouring Denmark. The critics said that Danish bacon might be cheap but at what cost to the animal?

Now though an animal rights group in Sweden has filmed disturbing images taken secretly at a pig farm which show the sort of scenes of animal cruelty highlighted in Denmark - cramped pig pens, lack of food, the animals covered in sores and even eating a dead pig on the floor.

Swedish radio news which was given the tape, says the film is genuine and received no comment when contacting the farmer involved, Lars Hultström, who is chairman of the association for Sweden's livestock farmers, Swedish meats.

And the group, The Animal Rights Alliance say their film is not an isolated incident, they've filmed at other farms in the country which also breach Sweden's tough animal rights laws.

Now the media is investigating Sweden's animal health inspection system which has recently changed authorities and is looking into just how many times livestock farms are inspected every year.

Before the beginning of the year, when the responsibility for the controls shifted from the municipality to the county council, Lars Hultsröm's farm was inspected every year.

"I think last time was January 2008 and it was I who carried out that inspection. There was nothing bad to report then,”said Monica Ängehult, responsible for these inspections in Flen municipality until 2009. The only complaint she ever remember having on the farm was a lack of straw.

Ängehult is since 2009 working with the same kind of inspections on county level and she says that the authority is planning a visit to the farm on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Lars Hultstöm has been unavailable for comments all Tuesday but on his mobile phone answer service he says that he is planning a "time-out due to recent events".  He says that the time out will last until the investigation has been carried through- something that he welcomes.

"I have nothing to hide," he says on the recorded message.

Hultström's time-out is from his post as chairman of the Swedish Farmers Association, as well as from the company Swedish Animal Healthcare. The latter handles the veterinary care of the animals at the farm, and CEO Jan Åke Robertsson, told Swedish news agency TT that they had already been to the farm Tuesday morning.  

After giving medical treatment to the sick animals, and putting down those seriously ill, there is nothing more that can be remarked on the health of the pigs. He also said that the lack of straw and the filth is due to a technical failure, but that this is not enough to excuse conditions on the farm.

According to Robertsson, the  pigs were not in the regular pens, but in a treatment pen at the time they were filmed. The staff at the farm were right in isolating them, but conditions were terrible, he said.

"This is very serious. Every case like this is an unfortunate incident and reflects badly on all those that daily and hourly look after their pigs, upholding the standard so unique for Sweden," he said to TT.