French agriculture minister condemns ‘cruel practices’ after shocking video from intensive pig farm

The French agricultural ministry has condemned "unacceptable practices" after an animal rights group released a video showing pigs being mistreated on a factory farm in Burgundy.

French agriculture minister condemns 'cruel practices' after shocking video from intensive pig farm
Illustration photo: Damien MEYER / AFP.

A police investigation has been launched after the French animal rights group L214 published a video on Thursday, August 19th, from an intensive pig farm in the Yonne département in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

The images are accompanied by the account of whistleblower Grégory Boutron, a former employee who has told how he quit his job and fell into depression after being shocked by the mistreatment of the animals. 

“What shocked me was seeing the person in charge relentlessly stab the sows with a screwdriver when they didn’t want to move, or hit them in the head with a metal bar,” Boutron said.

“They cut their tails with an iron,” and castrate piglets without anesthetic, he said.

Images filmed by Boutron with his mobile phone show piglets moving after being struck against the floor, and squealing while they are having their teeth and tails cut, as well as pigs being given electric shocks and red marks supposedly resulting from being prodded with a screwdriver.

“Before I left, they bought an electric battery, and when there was a sow that didn’t want to keep walking, they set upon her.”

Warning: disturbing images

Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie condemned the practices in a tweet on Thursday, and confirmed that authorities had already begun investigating the farm before the video was released.

“An investigation was launched in June following a complaint made against this farm. It remains ongoing,” the Ministry of Agriculture and Food said in a press release, adding that they “strongly condemn the unacceptable practices shown in these images”.

“If the inspection undertaken in June did not flag any unacceptable situations or behaviours like those seen in the video constituting acts of cruelty […] further investigations will be carried out.

“In addition, the castration of piglets without anesthetic, as shown in these videos, will be banned in France from January 1st, 2022.”

Local prosecutor Hugues de Phily confirmed to AFP that a complaint had been made in February and that the gendarmerie had been charged with undertaking a preliminary investigation.

The intensive farm houses 1,800 sows. It belongs to the Provent-SDPR group, which manages, directly or indirectly, a hundred pig farms across France, according to L214.

The organisation has called on the government to ban the practice of “thumping” piglets against the ground, as well as cutting their tails without anesthetic.

They have launched a petition which you can sign HERE.

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Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.