Pregnant Mothers In Cages: Time To Ban Sow Stalls
My kids want a pet pig from Santa this year. I had to break the news that pigs don't really like living in the heart of Sydney city but I completely get why they would want one. They know the pig that comes to the food markets sometimes. He loves getting scratched on his back and nudges up for more affection. Not unlike our dogs, pigs show a bond with humans, a desire for love and without a doubt, an ability to experience joy and to suffer. I know there is an outcry when obvious cruelty is inflicted on a dog. As there should be. And I am guessing if most people got to experience a pig ( even the little we have as city folk) they would feel the same about protecting them.
If you don't already know sow stalls are tiny cages that pregnant mother pigs are kept in for between 6 weeks or their whole pregnancy of 16 weeks. They are so small they do not allow the pig to even turn around or to the side, let alone move freely. Due to this torturous lack of any space, they are forced to lie down in their faceas and urine. While Australian Pig farmers have agreed to "phase out" sow stalls, there are loop holes which Voiceless have explained mean the following:
- Industry’s definition of ‘sow stall free’ does NOT mean pigs will spend no time in confinement, just less time. The phase out only applies to producers who are members of APL. While APL members produce most of Australia’s pork, they represent just 38% of all Australian pig meat producers.
- The phase out also relies on self-regulation meaning the pig industry will be responsible for policing itself with no independent checks.
- The phase out is voluntary so there are no penalties or other legal ramifications for producers who continue to use sow stalls.
Around one week prior to giving birth, they are moved to even smaller cages inside farrowing crates, where they remain for approximately six weeks until their piglets are weaned, at which point the sow is re-impregnated and the process starts over. Unfortunately there has been no mention of phasing out farrowing crates, even though they are often even smaller than sow stalls.
Animal agriculture has claimed farrowing crates are used to protect babies from being crushed but I have visited organic pig farms and talked to the farmers and they dispel this myth as false. Farrowing crates are actually used so farmers can house more pigs in less space, inside huge sheds. If this was happening to dogs, we would be outraged. So why is it allowed to happen to pigs, who are so obviously distressed and often show signs of going mad by being kept so restricted again, and again and again. Worse of all they are not able to move to look after their piglets as nature designed. Any mother knows that we have an innate instinct to care for our babies- whether this is for an animal or human animal. It must be horrific to not be able to.
The gruelling undercover footage Aussie Farms have collected from numerous Australia Pork Farms speaks for itself. I encourage you to watch it, even for a minute. It is shocking and hard to stomach but really enforces the need for mandatory, legally enforceable bans on sow stalls and going into the future, changes on the whole set up of factory farming of pigs.
The United Kingdom, Sweden and New Zealand have legal bans on sow stalls in place. Partial bans have also been implemented in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Finland and nine US States.
It’s time for Australia to catch up.
We want a ban that is monitored and enforced independent of industry. Make it law with Voiceless campaign.
Think about what you are supporting if you purchase meat from pigs and support the few farmers who do not use sow stalls or farrowing crates.
Warning: the below video is graphic but shows what happens inside sheds with farrowing crates.