Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Keeping pigs safe

The most sensible comments on the Sunday programme about the pork industry come from a pig farmer (who doesn’t support sow crates) suggesting at Kiwiblog that Mike King and the SAFE people don’t know much about pigs. The whole piece is worth a read but this is the money shot:
Two points about Mike King’s “disgust”. Firstly – yes the pigs were screaming. Why? It was the middle of the night or early morning. The pigs had been left alone and were suddenly woken by human activity. What does this usually mean for them? Quite simply – feeding time. Free range pigs have EXACTLY the same reaction. If King and his companions had fed the pigs the screaming would have stopped. Guarantee it. Secondly – the chewing of bars and frothing of the mouth? Again, it is completely standard across all pigs. They chew things. Free range pigs it’ll be tree branches etc, for pigs in stalls or crates it’ll be bars. And yes, they froth. Christ, you should see them when they mate!
UPDATE: More sensible comment from Home Paddock:
If pig farming in New Zealand breaches animal welfare standards it will have to change. But if higher – and more expensive – standards are imposed on the industry here nothing will be achieved if imported products from countries with lower, and cheaper, standards are permitted to compete with local produce.

Stopping imports or imposing higher standards on them is fraught with politics. Anything we require of imports must be based on facts or we’ll open ourselves up to chrages of imposing non tarrif barriers.

That won’t help the New Zealand pork industry and it will harm our efforts to free up world trade.
UPDATE II: Further sensible comment from Farmgirl here, and, of all people, Brian Rudman here.

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