A Wiltshire farm has been fined £25,000 after pigs had to be euthanised and evidence of “cannibalism” was discovered.

Roger Keen Farms Ltd, of Sandridge Farm in Bromham, was ordered to pay the fine after pleading guilty to charges of failing to meet the needs of its pigs, and permitting unnecessary suffering to the animals, at Swindon Crown Court on May 7.

During sentencing at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday, June 11, the business was also ordered to pay £4,162 in costs and a victim surcharge.

Senior Animal Health Officers from Wiltshire Council visited the farm in August 2021 and discovered 15 pigs with health conditions.

A Senior Veterinary Inspector ordered five of those pigs to be put down that day and post mortem examinations showed four of the animals had chronic joint lesions that would have caused a “considerable degree of suffering.”

Company director Roger Keen later humanely culled a further five pigs, following a separate inspection, and medical records showed the animals had not had any treatment before that day.

Sophia Hepple, from the Royal College of Veterinary Science Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law, acted as expert witness for the prosecution.

An injured pigAn injured pig (Image: Wiltshire Council)

She told the court that Mr Keen was responsible for poor conditions that caused risk of injury, disease, and cannibalism.

In her statement, she said: “Mr Keen was responsible for multiple counts of permitting unnecessary suffering to pigs under his care and responsibility.

“The housing and accommodation were dirty, unhygienic, and there were multiple examples of where there were unnecessary risks of injury or disease risk within the accommodation, due to lack of action to fix things promptly or to remove things promptly.

“There was lack of environmental enrichment for the pigs, serious cases of tail biting, ear biting and cannibalism, yet no clear evidence to justify tail docking, because there were no records being kept of tail biting incidents, causes nor attempts to improve the environment for the pigs to try and reduce such incidents occurring.”

Ms Hepple added that Mr Keen and his staff failed to take action when animals were sick or injured allowing them to suffer unnecessarily.

She added: “One of the most serious issues was failure to take prompt action on ill and injured animals, including isolation into more appropriate hospital environments when necessary, treatment when necessary and a complete failure to seek veterinary advice or to cull the animals promptly when such animals failed to improve.

The pigs were kept in crowded and dirty conditionsThe pigs were kept in crowded and dirty conditions (Image: Wiltshire Council)

“Animals were allowed to suffer unnecessarily for weeks, with no clear decision making being taken on chronically ill or injured pigs.

“Even when directly requested to euthanise animals by the APHA, staff appeared to avoid doing this.”

Wiltshire Council says Mr Keen blamed his employees for the failings when interviewed by its officers.

But the council says evidence suggested that the major contributing factors were overcrowding and a lack of experienced staff at the farm.

Roger Keen Farms Ltd stopped keeping pigs in September 2022.

Cllr Dominic Muns, the cabinet member for public protection, warned that poor care for animals will not be tolerated in the county.

An injured pigAn injured pig (Image: Wiltshire Council)

He said: “The vast majority of Wiltshire’s farmers and livestock owners take good care of their animals.

“Wiltshire has a small and dedicated team of Animal Health and Welfare Officers who work to enforce the legislation designed to help protect animal health and welfare.

“When it is found that animals are not being taken care of properly, our hard-working officers won’t hesitate to act decisively.

“We’re pleased with the court’s decision in this case and hope that it sends a strong message this will not be tolerated in Wiltshire.”