Harling Farm

Investigator's diary - Harling Farm A. J. Edwards & Son


“I was shown around. They then told me that I would be working with the sows and boars in the serving sheds.

After they explained the weaning process to me – which is basically taking babies away from their mothers - Geoff, my co-worker, moved the sows out of the shed and went back for the piglets. There were 124 in total. I quickly realised that I must’ve appeared ‘soft’ when I witnessed Geoff throwing animals into the corridor, as if they were pieces of rubbish. All of the piglets where taken to an outdoor pen in the field where they stay for six weeks before being brought back inside for fattening and slaughter.

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I noticed that a pig was slouched under one of the grain tanks. He was clearly ill and unable to walk. I asked Geoff what was wrong with the animal and was told that he was sick and needed to be taken to the ‘sick pen’. The pig must have weighed over 40kg. Geoff started kicking him to force him to move.

I realised one of the larger sows had a huge cyst on her side, which I pointed out to Geoff. He said that it was better to check it, so he stabbed the cyst hard. She started to scream and run, with pus oozing out of her puncture wound. Geoff then asked me if I wanted to administer an injection, though it was my first day and had never done this before. I just looked at him and shook my head. Geoff stabbed the needle into the pigs back whist she was screaming and then pulled out the needle - which was now bent.”


“I arrived at the farm yard and Geoff was waiting to go carry out the routine morning feed with me. We started at the breeding shed, or the “honeymoon suite” as Geoff likes to call it, which houses the sows, gilts and boars.

Each day the boars are put in with the sows or gilts in the hope that they will mate. This is done as soon as the females are in heat, just after their piglets are taken away. Geoff put his finger into one of the gilt’s vaginas - making her squeal – and said “she feels ready”. He sat on her back and inserted a tube inside her vagina. The tube was two-and-a-half foot long, with a catheter-style bag containing boar semen attached to one end. The sow had been artificially inseminated. When she gives birth, her babies would be taken away and the process would start all over again.”


“Geoff was busy loading the pigs for slaughter when I arrived. A lorry-load of pigs go to slaughter at 6am each Monday.
One of the bosses (who was in his eighties) was on the farm.

He called me over and took me to one of the sheds where there was a sow lying on her side, unable to move. “It needs shooting, it’s been there a while now” he told me. She had been there on my first day, and the same was said to me back then. The sow was very pink in colour and had been lying in the open for over 5 days now.”


“Just as I finished my feeding routine, we had to pick out six guilts. These can be recognised by the triangular notch in both of their ears. Steve, the younger of the two bosses, gave me a pig to carry. The animal was very bloated. I took him to the trailer so he could be put into the sick pen. As we got the sick and bloated pigs to the shed Steve told Geoff that they needed “sorting” – which meant they were due to be killed.

Geoff dragged one of the pigs to the gate of the sick pen by an ear. He pulled out a metal bar – approximately 50 cm in length - from the gate. He battered the pig over the head five times. He then picked up the wriggling animal and threw him into the ‘dead bin’. Geoff closed the lid and left for his tea break. As I walked away I could hear the pig still moving and kicking inside the bin.”


“Geoff told me that Steve was burying pigs in the ‘muck heap’ and that he could get locked up if he was caught.
It costs alot of money to have pigs disposed of in the proper way, and in this muck heap, a dead pig will rot away pretty quickly because of the heat.”


“Today I started weaning again with Geoff. We released sows from crates into the gangway and loaded them onto a trailer. The sows were taken back to the sow shed so that the cycle could start over again. When we returned to the original shed to get the piglets, some had escaped and had found the food container. Geoff got really angry, swearing “fucking things!” and “little cunts!”

Once we had loaded the piglets, we took them to the ‘coseys’ in the field opposite the farm. I was asked to assist Geoff teeth clipping the piglets - he clipped their teeth with pliers and I injected them, as instructed. Geoff then forced cream, which I assumed was wormer, down their throats.

I asked Geoff about the dead pig by the muck heap, he told me that Steve would bury it at the back. He said that although it was illegal, Steve would do it anyway, as it saves the farm money.”


“I fed the sows and fat pigs as usual, then had to feed the sow in crates and remove the dead pigs. I found 4 in total - one was completely crushed and another one had been bitten and chewed by other piglets.

Whilst checking the coseys for sick and dead pigs, I found two rotten pigs. Their skin fell off as I picked them up. In the yard the workers were discussing killing a pig for a spit roast BBQ. I asked if I could stay and watch.

Andy, one of the workers friends, was set to do the killing, though he apparently only holds a poultry licence. Andy’s gun looked like a special forces rifle - black with a telescopic sight and a silencer. I could tell he was beginning to get excited as he explained to me how the gun worked, and how he would kill one of the pigs.

He looked at the pigs and said repeatedly “Gonna kill a piggy!” Winkle, one of my co-workers came over and we headed to the sick pen. Winkle went into the pen whilst Andy and myself stayed outside. Winkle said that he wasn’t sure of which one he had first chosen. He pointed at one of the pigs saying that he hoped it wasn’t “this smelly one” and he kicked the animal.

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Geoff arrived, pointed out the pig and they all agreed that she was “a good one”. They herded her to the gate where Andy was waiting with his gun. “Whenever you’re ready”, Winkle said. The pig was stood against the wall looking at him. Andy leaned over aiming the gun at her head and said “Stand still!”, then Bang! he shot her in the head. Blood spurted on the walls and dropped to the floor. She went into spasms while the other pigs stood over her.

Geoff started to joke saying she was having a heart attack. He wanted to start cutting into the animal’s legs, so that he could fit the hooks in but Winkle told him to wait, as the pig was still convulsing.

Once the pig had more-or-less stopped, Geoff started to cut into the hind legs.

Winkle and Geoff dragged the pig to the forklift tractor. They drove to the muck heap with the pig dangling upside down.

Once there, Geoff slit the throat and blood gushed out. He started burning with a blow torch the hair and top layer of skin. Geoff then started slicing the animal open from the tail end of the stomach. He pulled guts and tubes out.”


“Today I helped Dovey move the pigs. He is usually one of the more aggressive workers on the farm. I had to see how he kicked and insulted pigs many times.

I was asked to go over to the coseys, to check one of the sheds. When I arrived there I found a dead piglet and a dying piglet thrown on top of a stack of straw. I asked Geoff what to do as he was not in the sick pen. He looked at me and said that he would probably be dead the next day so not to worry about it.”


“I arrived at 7am and started to feed. I then helped Geoff to wean in sheds number 2 and 3. I heard him calling the sows “fat cunts” while we were loading them. Once loaded they were taken down to the sow house and put into pens.

These pens were usually overcrowded with 8 or 9 pigs, when they shouldn’t house more than up to 6. Here they are served with one of the 8 bores or artificially inseminated.”


“I helped move some pigs around in the ‘Suffolk Houses’. Dovey and Winkle are responsible for these sheds. There were at least 3 or 4 injured animals, and some of these were unable to use their back legs.

Geoff kicked a sow and told her to get moving. He was shoouting and swearing at her. He then grabbed her by the ear and tail to move her as she was screaming in pain and fear.”


“When I arrived I helped remove a dead sow in one of the crates. She had not yet given birth and must have died during the night. No one appeared to know why.

As we attempted to lift her onto the forklift tractor, her stomach got caught on the crate. It ripped open and her guts spilled onto the floor. I couldn’t help thinking that it was lucky her unborn piglets would not be born into this hell-hole.”


“I arrived and started helping Geoff, move sows from the sow shed to the farrowing crate sheds. Loading the animals onto the trailer was going relatively smoothly until one decided she wasn’t going to move. She was a brown coloured pig and Geoff shouted at her “Come on ya nigger, move!” He got his knife out and used it to scrape her back. Up and down he scraped until she couldn’t take the pain any longer. I have witnessed Geoff do this with other stubborn pigs.

When unloading the sows into the crates I noticed one of them had a 6 inch gash on the top of her hind leg. I had to point it out to Geoff several times before he looked, and even then he just said with irony, “oh dear”. I asked what we should do and he said only that we would spray with antiseptic.

Today I managed to get some footage of the hole where the pigs are being buried. In the pit of rotting and bloating dead pigs was the left-over carcass of the pig who had been shot and butchered for the BBQ.”


“I noticed a scar on the flank of one of the sows. The sow looked as if she had been sliced with something very sharp. I had seen this kind of wound before, on other pigs and I’m wondering now whether Geoff did this to make the animal move.”


“Geoff told me when I arrived to the farm that a gilt couldn’t stand very well, so was unlikely to be able to hold a boar. I would therefore have to artificially inseminate her. Later, as I did this one of the other sows was nibbling at her foot. The sow could barely stand - her foot wouldn’t get treated and would get worse, yet they still wanted me to make her pregnant.

A sow had given birth so I went to help Geoff trim their teeth. He does this every day. This one had stood on three of her babies and two were very cold. One of them had died. Geoff threw one at me from the other side of the sow crate and told me to put him in the food trolley.”


“The shed is dark and hot. I turned on the feeders inside and closed all the gates. This is done to round up all the pigs into a hot and overcrowded urine-soaked pen on the other side. Usually Geoff swears a lot at the pigs while doing this.

I noticed the same pig with a broken leg that we saw on Monday. Now he was worse and unable to stand. “That needs knocking on the head”, Geoff said. Before I knew it he had taken an iron bar shaped like a golf club from the gate. He swung it into the air and aimed for the pig’s head shouting “Four!” He smashed the pig’s head four times. The pig screamed in agony, dropped to the floor and convulsed in his faeces. Geoff dragged him out the way of the gate before leaving, and the pig lay there, screaming and writhing on the floor.”

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"Then started to wean with Geoff. We started taking the sows away from their babies and loading them into the trailer.

Geoff started injecting the piglets and throwing them into the gangway. On the next shed the crates are set out differently so the piglets are herded to one side and blocked in with a big board. I then had to catch them and hand them over to Geoff as fast as I could. He then injected them and threw them or chucked them over the side of the pen until all 160 were done. We then loaded them on to the trailer.

I was carrying two piglets at a time and passing them to Geoff, he then threw them into the trailer, this is about 5ft high with a 5ft drop on to a floor full of piglets.”


“When I got to the barn which houses around 320 fat pigs in 4 pens, I noticed that the 2 dead pigs from the previous day were still in the end pen. They were rotting and had their guts hanging out which the other pigs were eating. Lying next to them, there was another dead pig, this one had only been dead a few hours.

4-Harling Farm AJ Edwards & SonDovy told me at breaktime that the workers bury most of the dead in the pit. The workers lie about how many have died, because it is illegal to bury them. They do this because they say that it costs alot of money to have carcasses disposed of.

In the afternoon Geoff came to help me catch ill and lame pigs from the barn. One of the pigs had eaten the tails off of most of the pigs in a pen. This can and has led to a spine infection that makes them lame. Three of the pigs had what appeared to be broken legs. This did not stop Geoff from kicking the animals to move quicker whilst yelling “Come on move ya cunt!” Geoff did not want to help moving the pigs and venting anger on them. This made me
very sad they were so frightened and vulnerable and had nowhere to escape.”


"I was told that the vet was going to come today to check the place out and sign it off for the welfare standards agencies.

I did wonder why all of a sudden, the break room was being swept and the vet book displayed on the table as this is normally in a tray under other paper work. The book is used when you have medicated the piglets, you have to write in the amount, and the vet comes and signs it every so often.

We had to clean up, hide the pigs in the hole and put chains up for the pigs without straw as this means mental stimulation… Can’t believe anybody would really think this is true.

When he came he just had a quick look round and never even realised about the sick pigs, sores, tumours, hernias… and much less the buried zone, which stank from a mile away…”


“Geoff and I crated up the sows who were due to give birth in a week. Whilst we were moving the sows Geoff suddenly turned to me and shouted, “look at the gash on that!” He had noticed a sow with a huge wound on her flank. Her muscle and tendons were outside, and there were flies all around her. I asked how the hell she could have done that. Geoff simply told me he didn’t know and hurried me to the next shed. Afterwards he told me that we could put some antiseptic spray on the wound. I tried to make him to do it before I left for the day but he told me not to worry.”


“Dovey, Winkle, Steven and Geoff loaded up the lorry for slaughter. Around 160 pigs weighing between 60 -70kg each are sent once a week, plus any sows who have aborted more than twice and no longer produce piglets. These animals are used as breeding machines – once they stop being profitable, their lives are over.

We had to herd 15 pigs into the slated prison-like pens. It is times like this that I am reminded of scenes from concentration camps like Auschwitz, and I feel very sad. The animals are pushed, prodded, hit, slapped, kicked and forced to clamber over the dead.

5-Harling Farm AJ Edwards & SonOnce we had finished, I had to go back to the bungalow to pick up the dead pigs we had just seen. When I returned to the yard I asked Geoff where I should put them and was told to put them in the hole behind the straw bails by the muck heap.

I had a chance to get a close view of one of the sows who had a prolapse. She also had a swollen foot so couldn’t walk properly. The prolapse was starting to rot and smelt appalling. No treatment was administered and the pain must’ve been excruciating.”


“While moving guilts from one side of the shed to the other, as always Geoff became very angry. He yelled at the animals and called them “cunts.” There was one guilt in particular, the last one, who was struck on the face with a board. The board had a piece of steel screwed to the back and Geoff struck her hard. When I reached her later, her nose was bleeding.

When I was strawing up down the coseys I found one of the newly weaned piglets with an ear that had swollen to the size of a football. It was literally the same size as the piglets' head and was full of liquid. The piglet was in obvious agony but when I mentioned the problem later to Geoff, he said he would have a look at the animal, but nothing was done, and he was left to suffer.”


“When I was closing the gates on the Suffolk sheds I also noticed another dead pig had been pushed out to the muck heap ready to be put in the hole to be buried.”


“As we were removing piglets from crates and loading them, I noticed a piglet who was clearly very sick and possibly dying. I had handed him over to Geoff, and before I realised he had smashed the piglet on the floor by his legs. Upon impact, the piglet’s head cracked and the animal started convulsing. But he wasn’t completely dead and he was just left gasping in the passageway.

Following this we had to empty the sick pen. Geoff grabbed the handle from the gate as usual and smashed it over the head of one of the sick piglets. It took him several blows before he finally cracked the skull, sending the animal into spasm.

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Geoff then stood on the animal’s head, pulling out the bar which was lodged in the skull. He then shouted at me to help him throw the animal into the dead bin. It took me a few seconds to react as I just cannot get used to him doing this. The blood was pumping out of the animal’s head, and pieces of brain. I got hold of the leg and the blood went all over my boots, the floor and the dead bin. As soon as the piglet was inside the bin, Geoff put the lid on and walked away. I could still hear the piglet kicking and desperately squealing. Once again I felt frustrated and unable to help."


“We started in the Suffolk sheds herding the pigs out who were marked with a red stripe. They weighed between 60kg and 70kg. Before being loaded they are counted and given a slap mark. The process of loading the pigs for slaughter with Dovey and Geoff, involves a lot of pushing, slapping and kicking the pigs.

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After the pigs had been loaded, Michael, the other boss, confessed his worries about a pig who had been injected with antibiotics two days before and sent off to slaughter. For this animal there should’ve been a withdrawal period of 18 days.

As the workers loaded the trailer with pigs, they were boasting that they would fit all 60-80 on at once. They crushed many pigs as they closed the trailer doors, leaving no floor space for them even to stand. The pigs were piled on top of each other screaming.

Dovey struggled to get one of the pigs to turn around and he repeatedly kicked the animal in the face until he turned. Then, even though the pig was walking up to the pen, Dovey gave him a massive blow on the testicles with his foot. Dovey passed by me boasting that he was "hardcore."


“Again in the sow house, I noticed an injury on one of the sow’s legs. She had been put into this pen one or two weeks before - she had a bad shoulder and was limping. The leg was now swollen to twice the size, also five abscesses that she had.

In the pen next door there was a sow with a prolapsed rectum and a swollen foot, which she was unable to walk on. As I approached the pen I could smell the rotting flesh of the prolapse.

Today the inspector for the Red Tractor Farm Assurance arrived with a trainee. They ticked boxes and didn’t look around much. If they had’ve they would have found a hole full of dead pigs.”


“Today I was filming a mother giving birth, she had given birth to about twelve piglets which three of them were dead. She stood up and was standing on one of the dead ones, I kept filming worried that she may sit or stand on them.

Some piglets kept going over to the dead ones to look at them, they were probably confused and didn’t understand why they were not moving, they started to nudge them with their noses to see if they would get a response.

Then suddenly the mother laid down crushing at least two piglets. The screaming was unbearable, one got free, but the other one was trapped by the leg. I was freaking out and unsure what to do. My first natural instinct was to get the mother to move, get her up and off the baby. I then realised that this is the reason I am hear in the first place. I was not supposed to be in this shed and so if I hadn’t been sneaking around no one would have seen it and it would have happened anyway. This wasn’t my fault, this happens because these places exist… It was a gut wrenching decision but I carried on filming.

The piglet got out in the end seemingly injury free. But I can’t help feeling that his life will be a grim short existence and it would have been better for him or her to die.”


“As I arrived at work I was immediately faced with a pig struggling to stand outside the Suffolk sheds. Winkle pointed at the animal and told me that I needed some practice.
“You gonna bang it on the head!” he said. I told him that I didn’t want to do it. Winkle said that if there was a bolt gun on the farm then he would do it.

Later, Geoff went to the pig, removed an iron bar from the gate, stood above the pig as if he was about to take a swing at a golf ball, lifted the bar and Bang! The bar got stuck into the pig’s skull. Geoff then dragged the pig to the dead bin by the bar. As we lifted the animal into the bin, I got covered in the blood that was pumping out from the skull, and the pig was kicking. Geoff walked away leaving the pig kicking against the inside of the bin."


“As I arrived Geoff asked me to help him locate a missing piglet whose mother had fallen through the bottom of the sow crate during the night. All of her piglets had consequently fallen in the slurry beneath and Geoff had located all but one. We looked all over the entire shed including under the metal crate flooring but never found the piglet. I can only assume he drowned in the slurry.

While serving I asked Geoff what would happen to the sow with the prolapse that was in one of the pens. He told me that the prolapse would be left to rot and hopefully would drop off. This way they could send her to slaughter.”


“Today whilst serving in the sow shed with Geoff, he pulled out a knife. He walked over to a sow with a huge abscess on her leg. He stabbed at the abscess with his knife and squeezed it. Pus squirted out everywhere and he said he would give her 10ml of penicillin.

We needed to move both a sow and a guilt into the serving area as they were returns (meaning that they had not yet been impregnated so had to go with a boar again or be artificially inseminated).

9-Harling Farm AJ Edwards & SonThe guilt was next in line for a beating. Guilts are young and inexperienced, and are not familiar with the routine like the older sows. This guilt became scared and did not want to leave the barn. I had to push her out of the barn and then her beatings started but she did not move. Geoff got more and more angry, swearing at her and beating her on the back and in the face with the blue plastic pipe. She would scream, move a little, then stop again, and so again Geoff would start beating her. This went on for more than ten minutes, with screams getting louder and more frequent with the beatings. When she finally gave in, her snout was bleeding and bruised black and blue. Her back had long red marks from the pipe hitting the skin. Again, the same beatings occurred on the way back. When Geoff left, she was shaking and terrified."


“Today was a weaning day, we started as usual moving the mothers out of the sow crates to the sow house.

Then as usual we went back for the piglets and injected them as they were counted into the passage. Then herded into the crammed trailer and the doors squeezed closed. One of the piglets got out, Geoff picked him up by the leg and threw him over the top of the trailer landing on a sea of piglets. Then we took them to the cosy kennels down the road and unloaded them.”


"Today was my last day and I walked out at lunch time. The images in my head of this hell-hole will stay with me always. I always felt absolutely powerless to stop the pain, suffering and death. But all my documentation will be shown to the public, and hopefully it will make people realise what actually goes on in these places …”