An investigation is underway after undercover footage was found to capture animal welfare breaches at a pig farm in North-east Scotland.

Campaign group Animal Equality UK obtained footage at P and G Sleigh Pig Unit, in Aberdeenshire, which exposes workers using their own means to inhumanely euthanise weak and injured pigs on the farm.

The video shows one worker using a hammer to kill a pig then turn to his colleague to say ‘as good as any bullet.’ Another scene shows two piglets being swung against a concrete floor.

The farm belongs to former Quality Meat Scotland board member and pig farmer, Philip Sleigh, who resigned from the meat body this month after he was shown the footage.

QMS are unable to discuss specific details while an active investigation is ongoing but a spokesperson said: “After reviewing the footage and assessor investigation, QMS has withdrawn this member from our Quality Assurance scheme for non-compliance with our standards. Animals must be handled humanely and with respect. Pigs that do not respond to treatment or require emergency euthanasia must be promptly and humanely euthanised by a trained and competent person in line with the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) Casualty Pig publication.”

The unit supplies pork to a number of well known supermarkets and restaurants, including Lidl and Tesco who have already taken prompt action to suspend his produce from their supply chain pending a full and thorough investigation by QMS.

The National Pig Association has condemned the actions taken by workers as totally unacceptable but have questioned the motives of Animal Equality for sitting on the footage for many months instead of taking swift action to notify the authorities of their animal welfare concerns.

A spokesperson said: ‘The UK pig sector takes allegations of the mistreatment of pigs incredibly seriously and as soon as aware will always encourage the relevant authorities to investigate as we did in this instance.

"As with all livestock farming, however, pigs do sadly become ill or injured and when they do not respond to treatment, will need to be euthanised. What matters is the skill, expertise and care exercised by the stockperson in identifying problems and dealing with them appropriately.

"Euthanasia is a permitted legal practice and can be conducted in a variety of ways, dependent on the size of the pig, provided it is in accordance with veterinary direction and oversight. In this instance however, the footage does depict inadequacies with regard to the method of euthanasia used and pig handling, which is totally unacceptable.

"We understand that the farm in question is now subject to a full investigation by both the relevant authorities and Quality Meat Scotland.

"It is also important to highlight that if Animal Equality were so concerned about the welfare of the animals on the farm, they should have alerted the relevant authorities immediately to ensure any animal welfare breaches were quickly addressed, rather than wait for four months to release the footage."

The SF heard from an anonymous farmer that incidents such as these are a major step back for an industry which is trying so hard to build trust with the public: “Assurance standards and brand value are built on trust that we as farmers have built up over many years,” he said. “Incidents such as these blemish all Scottish agriculture. The footage clearly shows unacceptable behaviour that will shock fellow farmers just as much as consumers. Incidents such as these are very rare, but we must collectively act to rid the industry of these bad operators.”

A farmer and vet told the SF: “It is time for supermarkets, governments and us as consumers to wake up and take some responsibility for this. Supermarkets and other buyers are constantly putting producers under extreme pressure to keep prices low and supply cheap food for consumers which could lead to some cutting corners in this totally unacceptable way.”