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Criminal investigation launched after ‘disturbing’ footage at Welsh abattoir

A criminal investigation has been launched into a Welsh abattoir after cameras captured sheep being thrown onto their backs and “improperly” stunned.

Animal charity Animal Aid placed cameras at the Farmers Fresh Maelor Abattoir, in Wrexham, earlier this year.

The charity said their footage reveals “numerous failings”, including alleged mishandling of animals, which could have led to sheep being slaughtered while still conscious.

In the footage, animals appear to be pulled along by their legs, dragged by their throats, kneed, kicked, and thrown by workers.

Animal Aid said the footage shows workers “misapplying” stunning tongs to the necks, snouts, faces and even the leg of an animal.

The Food Standards Agency said it has increased its presence at the facility and a criminal investigation has been launched.

Animal Aid said it has obtained hidden camera footage on visits to the Farmers Fresh site on Bedwell Road, Wrexham, between March 26 and June 3 of this year.

The video shows workers dragging animals by their legs and neck on to conveyor belts within the facility.

Sheep are seen being thrown, with some left upside down and struggling with their legs in the air.

CCTV

Animal Aid said it fears some of the stunning may have been ineffective.

Animal Aid campaign manager Tor Bailey said: “At this fast-paced killing factory the issues were extensive and across the board.”

She said the footage revealed “numerous failings” by workers, and called on the Welsh Government to legislate for mandatory CCTV in all of Wales’ abattoirs.

Laws requiring welfare-monitoring CCTV in all abattoirs in England came into force last year, with similar rules expected to pass in Scotland.

A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said: “The Food Standards Agency takes animal welfare at slaughterhouses very seriously and a criminal investigation is underway.

“We took swift action to increase our presence at Farmer Fresh in Wrexham and to introduce additional checks and ensure animal welfare was being protected.

“We are unable to comment further while the investigation is ongoing.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We take animal welfare at slaughterhouses very seriously. As a criminal investigation is underway, we are unable to comment further at this stage.”

A representative of Farmers Fresh responded to the allegations with “we have no comment”.

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