Yaxham pig farm loses Freedom Food status

A mid Norfolk pig farm has had its Freedom Food status removed after a video was released alleging bad conditions on the site.

A mid Norfolk pig farm has had its Freedom Food status removed after a video was released alleging bad conditions on the site.

The two-hour footage claiming to be of Manor Farm in Yaxham, near Dereham, was shot by an investigator from the Hillside Animal Sanctuary, in Frettenham, over 10 weeks.

It was released 11 days ago, the same day the Freedom Food assurance was removed from the farm, which is owned by Andrew Rush.

Manor Farm has been accredited by the independent body Freedom Food, which is recognised by the RSPCA, for two years.

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This assurance is only given to farms which meet a wide criteria of welfare standards, including the amount of space where animals are kept, access to food and water and cleanliness.

A spokesman from Freedom Food said on Friday: 'Freedom Food has terminated the membership of Manor Farm, Yaxham, for failing to meet the RSPCA's welfare standards and the terms of its Freedom Food contract.

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'This follows a seven day suspension of the farm from the scheme, whilst Freedom Food carried out an investigation in response to footage showing serious allegations of poor welfare.

'Any animal welfare failures on Freedom Food approved farms are totally unacceptable and are taken very seriously. Freedom Food will always fully investigate each and every incident reported and take whatever action is needed.'

They added that the RSPCA is continuing its own investigation.

A RSPCA spokesman added: 'Within three hours of being notified of the footage RSPCA officers arrived at the farm to check conditions and the farmer was given advice about, bedding, disposal of deceased animals and veterinary care.

'RSPCA inspectors have returned to the farm to ensure the advice is being followed and will be visiting again to continue to monitor the farm.

'As with any other RSPCA investigation, if evidence of deliberate cruelty and/or suffering in contravention to the Animal Welfare Act is found, a file will be passed to our prosecutions department to determine whether or not to start legal proceedings.'

As reported on the EDP on Thursday, Mr Rush said the footage was a 'fabrication' but the EDP was unable to contact the farmer yesterday.

The farm owner can reapply for for Freedom Food status as long as he is able to present 'objective evidence' to show that he has put right all the 'non compliances', according to a Freedom Food spokesman.

They added that Manor Farm, in Yaxham, will only be readmitted to the Freedom Food scheme if Mr Rush agrees to three unnounced assessments in the first six months of the site's new Freedom Food membership, which he will have to pay for.

Easey Pigs, based in Ipswich, has supplied pigs to the mid Norfolk farm for the past two years and its director, Chris Easey, said inspections at the farm, following the video's release, have not revealed any evidence of animal welfare neglect.

He added that one aspect of the farm which did not comply with Freedom Food regulations was the electrics but he confirmed they have been fixed.

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