AROUND 40 activists aligned with the vegan 'Meat the Victims' movement, entered a farm in Northern Ireland on Tuesday morning and ‘released’ a pig.

Members of the group posted live video footage of their actions whilst on the farm, as well as photos of the animals. Some photos contained images of dead pigs and others that had been injured.

During the course of the visit, which started at 4.30am, the group members, some of whom had flown into the country for the event, identified one pig that they wanted to 'save' and took it from the farm.

Police officers did attend the scene but later said no criminal action had taken place.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police received a report of a protest involving a number of people at a farm in the Cloughmills area around 4.30am in the morning.

“Police attended and spoke with the protesters who left the property shortly before 7am. There were no reports of any criminal offence during the incident.”

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs sent inspectors to the farm to investigate claims from the group that the animals were being kept in poor conditions.

A spokesman said: “DAERA is aware of an incident during the early morning of Tuesday Jan 14 on a pig farm in County Antrim. DAERA inspectors followed up on the incident and are currently investigating.

“The department is responsible under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 in respect of farmed animals,” he said.

This farm is a member of the Red Tractor quality assurance scheme which has also launched an investigation.

Meanwhile, the owners of the farm said the pigs were kept in appropriate conditions and that they were 'healthy, well fed and warm'. The owners also pointed out that the action by the activists had created biosecurity risks and voiced concern that they would not be able to look after the pig they took.

The Scottish Farmer: Vegan activist Wesley OmarVegan activist Wesley Omar

Farm thefts by animal welfare 'activists' should not be regarded as either trivial nor funny – but this week's Channel 4 programme 'How to steal pigs and influence people’ was accused of doing just that.

In a joint statement ahead of the broadcast, the UK farming unions questioned the tone of the broadcast. While the stated point of the programme was to look at the the social media fame and fortune motivating young people to act out supposedly selfless behaviours, farmers are concerned that the humorous handling of the topic risked normalising trespass and theft on rural properties.

NFU Scotland, NFU, NFU Cymru and the Ulster Farmers Union said: “We are deeply concerned that Channel 4 is broadcasting this documentary, despite being contacted beforehand by those involved in the farming industry who know only too well the very real impact that this kind of criminal behaviour has on farmers, their families, their business and the health and welfare of their animals.

“We believe that the title and trailers for ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’, with promotional wording talking about ‘daring farmyard heists,’ shows that the programme makers regard this illegal activity as trivial and humorous," said the statement.