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Hidden camera footage shows abattoir workers throwing sheep onto their backs at slaughterhouse

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Hidden camera footage showing abattoir workers throwing sheep onto their backs, trampling over the animals and improperly stunning them at Welsh slaughterhouse sparks an animal welfare investigation

A hidden camera has captured sheep being hurled onto their backs, trampled and improperly stunned at a Welsh slaughterhouse, sparking an animal welfare investigation. 

The harrowing footage, captured by Animal Aid activists, also shows one sheep getting its head stuck in a conveyor belt while a second is grabbed and stunned when it makes an attempt to escape.

An investigation at the Farmers Fresh abattoir in Wrexham, Wales, has been launched by the Foods Standard Agency, which is responsible for monitoring how they treat animals.

It also comes as the Welsh government continues to refuse to make it compulsory for CCTV cameras to be installed in slaughterhouses, despite this already being a requirement in England and Scotland.

A hidden camera at a slaughterhouse in Wales has caught sheep being hurled onto their backs, trampled and improperly stunned moments before their death at a Welsh slaughterhouse

A hidden camera at a slaughterhouse in Wales has caught sheep being hurled onto their backs, trampled and improperly stunned moments before their death at a Welsh slaughterhouse

The harrowing footage, released exclusively by MailOnline, was filmed by Animal Aid activists investigating Farmers Fresh abattoir in Wrexham, Wales. (Pictured: A worker grabs a sheep by the neck before hurling it onto the conveyor belt)

The harrowing footage, released exclusively by MailOnline, was filmed by Animal Aid activists investigating Farmers Fresh abattoir in Wrexham, Wales. (Pictured: A worker grabs a sheep by the neck before hurling it onto the conveyor belt)

The disturbing footage, released exclusively to MailOnline, shows sheep hiding in the corner as workers drag them by the legs and neck onto a conveyor belt to be slaughtered.

One is also shown being sat on to stop it escaping, while a second is hurled onto the conveyor belt upside down, and left struggling with its legs flailing in the air.

The rough treatment of the sheep moments before their death carries on even when a vet enters the room. 

When they reach the top, footage showed the sheep being jabbed repeatedly on the head and legs by stunning prongs before their hind legs are attached to a second conveyor belt.

Improper stunning of sheep means that they may still be conscious when their throat is cut by the machine.

After viewing the investigation, the Food Standards Agency said they have started to carry out an animal welfare investigation. (Pictured: A worker tramples a sheep at the slaughterhouse)

After viewing the investigation, the Food Standards Agency said they have started to carry out an animal welfare investigation. (Pictured: A worker tramples a sheep at the slaughterhouse)

Footage also showed sheep being stunned repeatedly on the head and some also being stunned on the legs when they reach the top of the conveyor belt. This has prompted fears that some may have been conscious when they went to slaughter. (Pictured: A sheep being stunned on the neck at the slaughterhouse)

Footage also showed sheep being stunned repeatedly on the head and some also being stunned on the legs when they reach the top of the conveyor belt. This has prompted fears that some may have been conscious when they went to slaughter. (Pictured: A sheep being stunned on the neck at the slaughterhouse)

The Food and Standards Agency, which rated the slaughterhouse as 'needs improvement' in a review published at the beginning of last month, said it now also had a member of staff permanently at the site. (Pictured: A sheep being stunned on the neck at the slaughterhouse)

The Food and Standards Agency, which rated the slaughterhouse as ‘needs improvement’ in a review published at the beginning of last month, said it now also had a member of staff permanently at the site. (Pictured: A sheep being stunned on the neck at the slaughterhouse)

Animal Aid’s Campaign Manager, Tor Bailey, said: ‘At this fast-paced killing factory, the issues were extensive and across the board.

‘There were numerous failings by workers, but we believe that management and the slaughterhouse vet are hugely culpable too, in that they failed to prevent these shocking incidents from taking place.

‘Without our covert cameras in place, this horrendous situation may have continued, unchecked, for some time.

‘We’re calling upon the Welsh government to introduce independently monitored mandatory CCTV without delay across Wales.’

After viewing the footage, a spokesman for the FSA said they have staff at the slaughterhouse permanently to monitor animal welfare and have introduced additional welfare checks.

‘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 take animal welfare at slaughterhouses very seriously and a criminal investigation is underway.’

Animal Aid's campaign manager, Tor Bailey, said: 'AT this fast-paced killing factory, the issues were extensive and across the board'. (Pictured: Workers shoving sheep up the conveyor belt to be slaughtered)

Animal Aid’s campaign manager, Tor Bailey, said: ‘AT this fast-paced killing factory, the issues were extensive and across the board’. (Pictured: Workers shoving sheep up the conveyor belt to be slaughtered)

Farmers Fresh, which took over the abattoir in January this year, also has operations in Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Farmers Fresh, which took over the abattoir in January this year, also has operations in Kenilworth, Warwickshire

A worker also trampled on a sheep when as it travelled along the conveyor belt (pictured)

A worker also trampled on a sheep when as it travelled along the conveyor belt (pictured)

The slaughterhouse was rated as ‘requires improvement’ in its most recent inspection, published at the beginning of last month, carried out by the Food Standards Agency.

Their failure to comply with requirements for reducing animal suffering during their killing, personal demonstrating an appropriate level of competency and the movement of animals to avoid stress were all rated as ‘major’ in the inspection.

Farmers Fresh took over the abattoir in January this year. The company also has operations in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. 

It sells slaughtered lambs to supermarkets in the UK and exports them to France.

Animal Aid obtained four sets of footage between March 26 and June 3. 

The footage will heap further pressure on the Welsh government to force all abattoirs in the country to have CCTV.

A government report in 2016 dismissed it as a requirement, claiming there was ‘simply not sufficient basis on which to make CCTV a mandatory requirement’.

They concluded that there were already ‘a number of controls in place’ which would prevent animal suffering, and as many farms were already members of assurance schemes, such as Red Tractor and Freedom Foods, the CCTV was not necessary.

Farmers Fresh did not respond to a MailOnline request for comment.

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