FARM managers have been ordered to pay £4,000 in court after a piglet was stabbed to death in the heart.

The ten-week old pig had its feet bound before being illegally slaughtered in a way that inspectors said would cause a 'prolonged death'.

David and Anna Maria Blake, who own Worton Organic Garden just outside Yarnton, answered the charge at Oxford Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Appearing alongside was their employee Jenejio Marques, who carried out the unusual slaughter.

The court heard how officers from Oxfordshire Trading Standards first visited the farm in May 2017 after getting a complaint about illegal slaughter of animals.

When asked about the slaughtering of pigs, Mr Blake and Mrs Blake admitted to the slaughtering of a 10-week-old piglet by Mr Marques.

Oxford Mail:

The court was shown the knife which Mr Marques used to kill the pig.

They revealed the method of slaughter was by binding the feet of the pig 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'.

The meat from the pig was then sold and eaten at the farm cafe, despite not complying with UK food safety legislation.

When officers went back for a second visit, they discovered evidence of medicines being used to treat pigs for worms.

But when questioned, Mr Blake admitted he did not keep any records on administering the medicines – a requirement under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.

Again, the regulations are intended to 'ensure the integrity' and safety of food destined for human consumption.

Oxford Mail:

Mr and Mrs Blake and Mr Marques all pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and were apologetic for their actions, which they said was out of ignorance of the law.

They also gave assurances that they would follow the legal requirements in future.

Mr Blake admitted failing to comply with regulations relating to the welfare of animals at the time of killing, and failing to record details of veterinary medicinal products.

He was fined a total of £664 and ordered to pay £2,000 court costs and a £38 victim surcharge.

Mrs Blake admitted the same first charge and was fined £230 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Mr Marques, who gave his address as Rectory Cottage, Worton, admitted the same charge and was was fined £150 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for trading standards Judith Heathcoat 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."