The Ministry for Primary Industries says it will soon release the findings from its investigation into the use of illegal sow stalls on a Timaru farm.
Sow stalls, used to cage pregnant pigs, were banned in 2015 on cruelty grounds. However, hidden-camera footage shot in April this year shows the stalls were still being used.
MPI began investigating following a complaint from animal advocacy group SAFE, which also requested to be kept updated with MPI’s enquiries.
SAFE’s Head of Campaigns, Marianne Macdonald, says MPI has told the group that its findings are due back soon.
“MPI’s response to us was that they were still investigating the farm but that a decision would be made in the “very near future.” Because it’s been going on for months now, it seems likely that more problems were found on the farm.”
“Sow stalls are barbaric, and have been illegal for years now. We expect MPI, given the evidence provided to it, to enforce the Animal Welfare Act to the highest degree and ensure farmers are obeying the law.”
Marianne Macdonald says again it was left up to animal advocacy groups to do MPI’s job and investigate the wrongdoing on a factory farm.
“Without the covert footage, the public would have had no idea this farm was breaking the law, and this illegal behaviour would potentially have been allowed to continue indefinitely. How can the public have any confidence in animal welfare laws that are not being enforced? It’s time for MPI to be stripped of its animal welfare responsibility.”
While sow stalls have been illegal since 2015, farrowing crates, which are used to confine sows after they have given birth, are still legal. Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee is currently considering a petition of 112,844 calling for a ban on farrowing crates.
“Pigs are intelligent, sentient beings. Whether it’s in pregnancy or while nursing, it is repugnant that they are being kept in cages so small they can’t even turn around.”