Unhappy Mother’s Day. There, I said it. While many people are having a great time with their families, some mums have been forgotten. Mother pigs are still suffering.
This year marks ten years since New Zealand pig farms were first exposed on Campbell Live, and truly launched pig cruelty in the public eye. Ten years of mums being unable to turn around. Ten years of being ignored, waiting for something to change. They have been disappointed.
Pigs are very intelligent, and excellent mothers. They care for their young, and love to build nests for them. They even sing to their children! On a factory farm, separated by bars, on a cold concrete floor, they are denied one of nature’s most basic gifts – the joy of caring for their offspring.
After strong campaigning by animal activists and growing public opposition, a ban on sow stalls takes effect at the end of this year. Farrowing crates will still be allowed however. In these crates sows are unable to turn around, much less properly care for their piglets. They are used as piglet producing machines, being impregnated over and over again until they are worn out and then they are slaughtered. All so we can have cheap meat.
It is not like there has been a shortage of scandal to prompt change. Over the last ten years, pig industry cruelty has been regularly exposed in the media. Even their former spokesperson, Mike King, turned against them when he discovered how pigs are actually treated. Consumers have also sent a pretty clear message – they do not want this cruelty to continue.
Yet the pork industry continues to balk at change. They fought the sow stall ban as long as they could. Even now, only months from when the ban will go into effect, many farms still use sow stalls. What is it about the pig industry that wants to squeeze every last drop of cruelty out of their farming?
The government is not much better. It took a tremendous amount of time just to get a sow stall ban, not to mention an enormous amount of media coverage. Government advisors have stated that farrowing crates do not fully meet the obligations of the law. Yet the government has kept terribly quiet about this.
Mums should be able to turn around. Intensive pig farming needs to go, with farrowing crates leading the way.
Shanti Ahluwalia, Campaigns Officer