A pig farmer from Norfolk, UK, targeted by animal rights activists, has been found dead in the fields last week, according to British media reports.
Stephen Brown, 52, is believed to have shot himself after saying he was ‘absolutely gutted’ after undercover videos and photographs had been released about ten days ago, suggesting animal cruelty.
An undercover activist from the campaign group Animal Equality secretly filmed a worker on his farm beating a pig to death with an iron bar, kicking piglets and smashing a live animal’s head on to a concrete floor.
In addition, photographs showed a worker aiming a rifle at a sow and the apparently lifeless body in its pen.
As a consequence, welfare and standards group Red Tractor, a British livestock industry initiative, suspended the farm from its quality assurance scheme. The RSPCA described it as one of the worst cases of animal abuse it had seen and launched its own investigation after the secret footage.
There was no suggestion that Brown was directly involved in the cruelty. He gave an interview to the BBC in which he said he was hit ‘very hard’ by the film, but also tried to put the footage into perspective.
He said, “I was absolutely gutted and mortified. I had no idea anyone was filming anyone.
“It does look bad. I feel some of it has been a bit dramatised. The man concerned taking the film of the pigs he was supposed to be looking after.”
He said the pig which was beaten to death with a bar had a broken leg and would normally be shot.
“Unfortunately the worker did not have access to the shot gun which I keep at my house and he used a blunt object to kill it.”
Brown kept 4,000 pigs on the 200 ha farm, which has been in his family since 1920. A neighbouring pig farmer said the undercover activist had tried for jobs at other farms in the area.