Warning: This story contains graphic details regarding the apparent poor condition of pigs

Secret video shot by animal activists at an Abbotsford hog farm has now prompted an investigation by the SPCA.

The footage, which the activists say was captured at Excelsior Hog Farm in February and March, shows a number of pigs inside a barn, which includes mother sows in individual stalls.

Dead piglets can be seen, as well as a larger pig’s corpse which appears to be in an advanced state of decomposition. The footage also shows some pigs with apparent growths, and a pig that appears to have trouble standing, as well as others lying listlessly on the floor.

Dan Paden, Vice-President of Evidence Analysis with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, told CTV News Vancouver the footage was provided to them anonymously earlier in April.

“These animals suffer egregiously and I think this video shows that,” Paden said.

CTV interviewed one of the people who captured some of the footage. He asked to have his identity concealed.

"We saw all kinds of untreated injuries, including bleeding sores," he said. "Crippled pigs unable to even stand."

"These animals are suffering in extreme ways and the public needs to know," he added.

The SPCA’s Chief Prevention and Enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty said a lot of the footage is "challenging to watch." She added she was most concerned about the images of deceased animals and pigs "appearing to be suffering."

"That absolutely did not demonstrate anything near a best practice and in fact, some of shots could potentially reflect a violation of the law," Moriarty said.

The animal welfare organization said it has now been contacted by PETA and provided with additional information. Their investigation will look at the contents of the footage, but will also involve visiting the farm with a vet to investigate current conditions and practices. 

Chad Goertzen, a director with the BC Pork Producers Association, also viewed the video.

"I think it’s important to know when people see this footage this isn’t all completely normal on most farms," Goertzen said. He said the Association is sending a vet to the operation to conduct an independent audit.

"Nobody wants to see dead, injured, or sick pigs in any barns. We want to make sure these pigs are being cared for properly," he said.

Goertzen questioned whether some of the pigs seen in the footage may have already been separated into pens for treatment, and said the timeline is also unclear. He said he’s also concerned about how the video was collected.

"To break into a barn and trespass and take footage and not know if it’s been staged or not is awkward," Goertzen said. He also questioned whether the footage was all from the same farm: “We think so, but I cannot say for certain.” He did confirm the farm’s owner is also a director at the Association.

CTV visited Excelsior Hog Farm, but no one at the property would speak on camera.

According to the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, conditions must be clean and "housing for pigs needs to provide for their comfort at all times."

Pig production facilities must have the ability to segregate sick or injured animals, and all animals need to be assessed for problems on an ongoing, daily basis: "The comfort and humane treatment of sick or injured animals are priorities." Pigs showing signs of sickness or injury must be identified and dealt with promptly, either through treatment or euthanization.

PETA said the video also shows mother pigs in gestation crates, which Paden described as "barely bigger than their own bodies, in which they cannot turn around or more than a step or two forwards or backwards."

Goertzen said the stalls are being “phased out” in a process that’s now underway and set to be complete industry-wide by 2024.

The pork industry in B.C. is based on family farms, and is not large, producing only about 10 per cent of the pork consumed in the province, according to the Producers Association.