Oxfordshire business owners fined for illegal slaughter of pig

The owners and an employee of a local business have been ordered to pay over £4,000 for the unnecessary suffering of a 10-week-old pig at the time of its killing and for failing to keep appropriate veterinary medicine records.

Earlier this week at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, Mr David Blake and Mrs Anna Maria Blake, trading as Worton Organic Farm and Mr Jenejio Marques Fidel, an employee of Worton Organic Farm pleaded guilty to offences relating to the illegal slaughter of an animal and failing to keep appropriate veterinary medicine records.

In May 2017, after receiving a complaint regarding the illegal slaughter of animals, officers from Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service visited Worton Organic Farm.

When asked about the slaughtering of pigs on the premises the owners, Mr Blake and Mrs Blake, admitted to the slaughtering of a 10-week-old piglet by their employee, Mr Fidel. The method of slaughter was by binding the feet of the pig and then stabbing it through the heart. This method of slaughter was identified by a Defra Veterinary Officer as leading to a prolonged death and causing distress and unnecessary suffering to the animal.

Meat being sold for human consumption must be slaughtered in a way which is compliant with food safety legislation. The method used by the owners did not meet these requirements, yet the resulting meat was sold to consumers in the premises’ café.

During a second visit to the site, officers discovered evidence of medicines being used to treat pigs for worms. When questioned, Mr Blake admitted that he did not keep any records relating the administrating of veterinary medicines, a requirement under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations. These regulations are intended to make sure that there is an auditable record of which medicines have been used to treat animals, which will end up being eaten by humans and to ensure the integrity of the human food chain.

All defendants pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and were apologetic for their actions, which they said was out of ignorance of the law. They gave assurances that they will follow the legal requirements in future.

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Cabinet Member for Trading Standards said: “Rules are in place around the slaughter of animals and the keeping of livestock records for very good reasons, ensuring the safety and integrity of our food chain, not forgetting the need to prevent unnecessary suffering to animals. The vast majority of livestock keepers maintain very good farming standards and we will not tolerate those who undermine the system”.

Jody Kerman, Trading Standards Operations Manager said: “There is understandably a financial cost for businesses when complying with legal requirements, something accepted by most businesses. For those who don’t follow the rules, they gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. We want Oxfordshire to be a place where honest businesses can thrive and we will take action to support them.

Notes to Editors:

The defendants received the following penalties:

Mr Blake

£384 fine (Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2015)

£230 fine (Welfare of Animals at Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2013)

£2000 costs

£38 victim surcharge

Mrs Blake

£230 fine (Welfare of Animals at Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2013)

£1000 costs

£30 victim surcharge

Mr Marques

£150 fine (Welfare of Animals at Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2013)

£30 victim surcharge


About our work:

Trading Standards enforces legislation governing the health, welfare, disease prevention and traceability of farm animals. We also enforce law relating to the safety, labelling and composition of animal feeding stuffs including the approval of feeding stuffs premises.