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SPCA calls for speedy ban on sow stalls and farrowing crates

Thursday, 21 May, 2009

BT logoSPCA New Zealand has renewed its call for a ban on sow stalls and farrowing crates, following last night's screening by TVNZ's 'Sunday' Programme of footage of pigs subjected to these extreme forms of confinement.

"We call on Agriculture Minister David Carter to ensure that the Animal Welfare Code for Pigs is altered, as soon as possible, to ban these cruel practices," says the SPCA's National Chief Executive, Robyn Kippenberger.

"It is total nonsense for a code that is meant to reflect the humane principles of the 1999 Animal Welfare Act, to allow pigs to be kept for most of their lives in such tight conditions that they can't even turn round. Pigs are an intelligent and sensitive species and there is considerable evidence that this type of ongoing cruelty can lead to demented behaviour, such as biting their cage bars.

"Those pig farmers who continue to use sow stall and farrowing crates are behaving in a totally inhumane and unacceptable way, for the sake of short-term profit. The industry as a whole does itself no favours by continuing to protect and support these farming methods, which are banned in the United Kingdom and much of the rest of the European Union.

"By staying woefully behind international best practice on this issue, the industry is jeopardising our standing as a humane and responsible food producing nation. Given the challenge to our food exports already posed by recession and by concerns over 'food miles', it is irresponsible in the extreme, for pig farmers to further endanger our global reputation in this way," she says.

Robyn Kippenberger adds that there is a widespread misconception that only imported pork and bacon is produced in inhumane conditions.

"We hope that this misconception has been totally scotched by last night's programme. The team from 'Sunday' should be congratulated for revealing the awful conditions in which so many of New Zealand's pigs are kept, as should Mike King, the former 'face' of television pork commercials, for following his conscience and contributing so eloquently to the programme.

"The only way to avoid eating pork or bacon produced in grossly inhumane conditions is to purchase meat labelled 'free farmed' or 'free range'. And to be absolutely sure, it's best to look for bacon or pork that bears the blue and white SPCA Blue Tick logo on its packaging. This logo can only be used by producers that have met our own rigorous standards of animal welfare at every stage of production," she says.