Pigs are highly intelligent and social. When given the opportunity, they will often sleep nose to nose with their closest friends. They love belly rubs and wiggle their tails when they’re happy. Pigs are also caring mothers. About 24 hours before they’re due to give birth, they will temporarily leave their group in order to collect materials to build a nest for their piglets.
Following the High Court judgement in 2021, which ruled farrowing crates and mating stalls were enacted unlawfully, the Government announced consultation to review the standards for pigs.
Both farrowing crates and mating stalls were designed to limit a mother pig’s movement, keeping her confined in a small cage for weeks at a time, unable to do anything except lie down and stand up. These practices are not only horrendous and out of step with what New Zealanders expect, but they also completely limit a mother’s natural behaviours making these crates and stalls inconsistent with our Animal Welfare Act.
Along with proposed changes to farrowing crates and mating stalls, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the Ministry for Primary Industries took the opportunity to propose further improvements to pig welfare. While the changes were a step in the right direction, our submission argued that the changes needed to go further, providing more space for pigs and regulating the breeding of pigs, so that the pigs on farms were ultimately healthier (and happier).
We submitted in favour of:
- A complete ban on any crating of mother pigs, and a move to farrowing pens of a much larger size than proposed by NAWAC.
- A complete ban on mating stalls.
- A complete ban on tail docking.
While the Ministry for Primary Industries tried to argue that more time was needed to phase in these changes, we’ve submitted in favour of the shortest phase-out feasible. The suffering of mother pigs is appalling and farmers must act quickly to end the use of cages.
“The proposed changes in the code have been signalled for a very long time, at least 17 years with regards to farrowing crates. The pigs suffering poor welfare should not have an extended change timeline applied to them because some members of the industry have dragged their feet in making changes.”