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The Northern Ireland link to 'appalling' Somerset pig farm exposed by animal rights body

By Jonny Bell

Animal rights activists have raised welfare concerns about a factory pig farm in England that has links to Northern Ireland.

Activists from the group Viva! were passed undercover material filmed at the Lambrook pig farm in Somerset, which is understood to house some 8,000 animals.

The footage - shot last month - shows pigs covered in muck.

One appears lifeless, and a rat can be seen scurrying around a pen.

The farm is owned by Crockway Farms Limited.

Its directors are James and Mark Wright, who operate JMW Farms based in Armagh. The family-owned and run company is one of Northern Ireland's biggest pig producers, which also has facilities in the Republic and England.

Crockway could not be contacted for a comment, while JMW did not respond to our requests for a comment.

Viva! said some of the animals appeared unwell, and that those who filmed the footage were able to access the farm through open doors.

Viva! said that the appearance of the pigs covered in dirt could be a sign of poor hygiene.

It added that the only stimulation they had was from hanging chains.

It has passed the footage on to the English animal welfare authorities.

"The conditions at Lambrook pig farm are appalling," said Justin Kerswell of Viva!.

"But sadly it is typical in the UK. Most consumers are shocked to find that such intelligent animals are kept in conditions like these, and that the authorities typically turn a blind eye.

"We reported Lambrook pig farm as soon as we were passed the footage. Consumers need to take matters into their own hands and refuse to be part of this. The best way to do that is not rely on the authorities who will do precisely nothing, but to reject factory farming and go vegan."

The footage was revealed as part of a Daily Mail investigation.

It reported that the farm had passed an audit by inspectors from the Red Tractor farm and food standards group on Friday, and that a nearby farm that uses energy produced from the site had been told the film footage did not accurately reflect the conditions the pigs were kept in.

JMW Farms has not responded to requests for a comment from the Belfast Telegraph, and Crockway Farms did not answer calls.

The Armagh-based company has been included in a list of Britain's elite businesses by the London Stock Exchange in 2016. The 'Inspire' report highlighted the fast-growing companies headquartered outside London.

The previous year it was named the pig farmer of the year.

It stresses on its website that all animals are regularly monitored and housed in specially designed facilities to ensure their comfort and well-being.

The pigs are given plenty of room to play and move around, the company says in its literature, with each pen having its own feeder and water supply.

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