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Police, RSPCA probe 'cruelty' at piggery

Date

Christopher Knaus

Disturbing footage ... dead piglets.

Disturbing footage ... dead piglets. Photo: Supplied

The RSPCA has ramped up the pressure on a local piggery after the emergence of ''disgusting'' footage showing alleged animal cruelty, including tiny piglets being booted across the floor and sows being bludgeoned with a sledgehammer.

Activists recorded video of the disturbing practices at Wally's Piggery, near Murrumbateman, over several weeks using hidden and hand held cameras.

The confronting footage, released late Friday night, shows workers beating sows, throwing piglets across the room, and cutting off the tails and teeth of piglets, which Animal Liberation says was done without anaesthetic.

A sow with an injured snout.

A sow with an injured snout. Photo: Supplied

Buckets of dead piglets are shown, as are cramped conditions, and sows being left with open wounds.

Police, the RSPCA, and the Department of Primary Industries are investigating the allegations, and the premises was raided on Friday.

Attempts by The Canberra Times to contact the two directors of the company were unsuccessful yesterday, as were attempts to reach the owner of the property.

The names of the workers pictured in the footage have reportedly been handed over to authorities.

RSPCA NSW chief executive officer Steve Coleman said the piggery had been handed a list of demands that it must comply with before another inspection this week.

''There's no other way of putting it, it's just disgusting,'' Mr Coleman said. ''Whether it's a piglet or an adult pig, the way that they were treated in that footage was just inappropriate, completely inappropriate.''

Mr Coleman could not disclose the specifics of the RSPCA's demands, as they may become the subject of legal proceedings.

It is understood some of the workers responsible have already been sacked by the piggery.

Mr Coleman said the company could face maximum fines of up to $110,000, while individuals could be penalised with $25,000 and two years in prison.

But he said courts rarely imposed maximum penalties for animal cruelty offences. ''It's one thing to continue to increase penalties, it's another for the courts to actually apply what's already in place, and that's more of a frustration,'' he said.

Animal Liberation ACT is planning a rally in Garema Place on Saturday to draw attention to the alleged cruelty.

It is also planning to release more footage of the mistreatment of pigs in coming weeks.

ACT co-president Jess Ferry said the organisation was urging NSW authorities to immediately shut down the piggery.

''The hygiene there I think is enough to shut them down, carcasses left overnight, and the guts and everything left for days,'' Ms Ferry said.

But the RSPCA said an immediate shut down was not the answer.

Mr Coleman said shutting down the piggery would leave hundreds of animals without accommodation, food and water.

''There's lots to consider, it's not just a simple decision just to shut an operation down,'' he said.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, was approached for comment yesterday but declined, instead referring inquiries on to the Department of Primary Industries.

The graphic footage can be viewed at aussiepigs.com.au.

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