There are none so blind…

I knew about sow crates[1], I know about poultry farms, plenty of people always have.

  • Quite often when I go into town to do Saturday errands there are people with sow crates, model pigs and petitions.
  • From time to time the TV has clips of sow crated pigs and battery hens
  • Photos of desparate pigs and miserable hens appear in popular culture; movies, docos, magazines, newspapers.
  • The animal rights campaigners and Green Party have run ad after ad and issued press statement after press statement.

It is inconceivable that any politician has not had every chance to find out about sow crates. Any MP who doesn’t know has avoided knowing, any Minister of Agriculture (past or present) who didn’t know has been completely remiss.

[1] I have been vegetarian since my early 20s so I have no reason to pay attention to pig farming practices, I have never been involved in the animal rights movement. I have less reason to know about this than the average NZer.

7 thoughts on “There are none so blind…

  1. you’re right, it’s been a festering open wound on our conscience for a long time. There are few issues where there is no grey but this is one.

    …from a lapsed vegeterian who doesn’t generally have a lot of time for animal rights groups. unless they’re cat rights groups.

  2. I remember seeing photos/articles advocating the ‘sow crates’ as a good way to handle the situation that the sows don’t really bother about the multitude of piglets beside them [ would you feel that responsible if you had had up to a dozen kids? you would be exhausted for sure ] and ‘happilly’ sit on them and kill them. So the crate is the human solution to killing the piglets which of course is the whole point of breeding for profit.
    I wonder if the better ‘human’ solution would not be to reduce their consumption of pork and bacon. I cannot remember the last time I ate either product but not from vegetarian reasons.

  3. jcuknz:

    Yes that is the point of sow crates. The problem arises when you get the sows being kept in the cages for over the recommended 4 weeks.

    Also – I grew up on a small organic pig farm, and I can tell you that if pigs are kept in warm humane conditions (we kept our sows and piglets in 4mx4m straw-bedded enclosures not 1.5mx2m cold concrete cages) they are very good mothers. We hardly ever had piglets dying.

    In the summer time we let the pigs roam around the paddocks (sometimes to the detriment of the grass), and they were very happy, rolling around in the mud (takes care of the parasites and stops sun burn).

    We made quite a tidy profit from them, though no doubt we would have got more should we have chosen to inflict a life of misery on them ….

  4. We recently got into the habit of buying free range chicken and found it tastes so much better than the cruel stuff. It is more expensive – a lot more expensive – about three times the price of similar sized frozen chickens. Yet for ethical (and health and taste) reasons it’s a price we’re prepared to pay.

    I’d do the same for pork. But you don’t often see free range pork or bacon for sale in butchers or supermarkets. This must be the biggest agricultural marketing opportunity of the year.

  5. jcuknz writes,

    I remember seeing photos/articles advocating the ’sow crates’ as a good way to handle the situation that the sows don’t really bother about the multitude of piglets beside them

    I’m pretty sure you’re talking about farrowing crates not sow crates.

    Sow crates’ only purpose is to allow you to cram heaps and heaps of sows into a small space without having to worry about the natural aggression the overcrowding would cause.

  6. I bow you your knowledge becuase it is over four decades since I saw the photos. I forgot to mention the ‘short’ time in a farrowing crate which I would say is the critical factor in the discussion. I guess a reluctance to provide room when you are talking about 2500 sows is also a business consideration.

  7. I went to reply to this the day it was posted, but the whole thing got rather out of hand so it festered in a private note-to-self on Facebook. I grew up on an industrial pig farm (as opposed to the much nicer sounding place of roger nome’s) so I didn’t really know where to start. The final reply was too long, so I adapted it to a blog post here:

    Hopefully it’s actually interesting and revealing and not just long-winded tripe.

    I’m really enjoying the blog though guys. Keep up the good posts.

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