15 September 2000
Healthy pigs slaughtered
By David Green
A FARMER caught up in restrictions imposed because of swine fever has spoken of his devastation after government officials slaughtered his healthy pigs.
Three thousand healthy pigs at Park Farm and Gatehouse Farm, Syleham, Suffolk were killed as part of the campaign to try to halt the spread of the disease
But Phil Greenacre, who runs both farms, said the transport of carcasses from the farm had been halted because blood was leaking from the lorries sent in.
Dead pigs were left outdoors all night and Ministry of Agriculture officials were ill-informed as were contractors sent in to disinfect buildings, he said.
Mr Greenacre said tests for swine fever were carried out on his pig herds four weeks ago. Yet he has still not been informed whether they were positive.
Mr Greenacre said the contractors arrived at 10 am on 7 September to kill his pigs and transport the carcasses to Stoke on Trent for rendering.
However, the bulk lorries hired for the job had leaks and, pig blood was pouring out of the containers. MAFF officials would not let the vehicles depart.
“After loading the lorries we had to unload them again and try to seal the leaks,” said Mr Greenacre.
Two lorries eventually got away at 8.45pm but it was not until the next day that replacements were brought in for the rest of the leaking vehicles.
Mr Greenacre said 1500 dead pigs – including some which had undergone autopsies – were left out in the open air all night.
By the morning, some had “blown up like balloons” and began to stink.
“If the herd did have the disease, and I still havent been told, foxes and other vermin could have spread it to one of my neighbours. It was disgusting,” he said.
Mr Greenacre said he understood that the Ministry was paying 45 an hour for each of the lorries which were delayed at his farm.
“The Government is not looking after farmers but everyone else involved in this disease outbreak seem to be taking a big cut,” said Mr Greenacre.
“I wouldnt have wished it on my worst enemy. Im fairly strong but it got to me. I feel devastated and appalled,” he added.
A MAFF spokeswoman said any concerns about the operation should have been raised on site with the vet in charge.
Lorries leaking blood would not be allowed to leave the farm because of the disease precautions, she added.