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Cruel crates need investigation - Greens

23 June 2006

Cruel crates need investigation - Greens

The Ministry of Agriculture must undertake an urgent audit of all pig farms in New Zealand to ensure that illegal, undersize sow crates are not being used, the Green Party says.

The call was made by Greens' Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley following revelations on Campbell Live last night that a pig farmer in Levin is allegedly keeping sows in undersized sow crates.

"It's bad enough that the law allows highly intelligent and sociable pigs to be locked up for months in a crate so small they cannot even turn around in - but it's horrifying to think they would be confined in something even smaller.

"We need an urgent audit of pig farms to find out whether this is an isolated case, or whether it's just the tip of the iceberg," Ms Kedgley says.

"We also need to know whether anyone in MAF ever monitors pig and hen farms around New Zealand to ensure they are compliant with the Animal Welfare Code on Pigs.

"There's no point having codes and regulations, if nobody within government is checking to see whether they are being complied with," Ms Kedgley says.

This case raised the wider issue of why pigs are locked up in sow crates for months at a time, when this practice breached the Animal Welfare Act, she says.

"Sows locked up in cages get almost demented with frustration and boredom. It is a shocking and unnecessary practice which must be phased out in New Zealand."

Ms Kedgley says she is concerned, but not surprised, to learn that MAF had not followed up a complaint about the farm with an inspection visit.

"MAF doesn't seem to regard animal welfare as a priority issue. But it has an obligation to follow up and investigate this and any other complaint it receives."

Ms Kedgley said it was equally concerning that the pig farmer in question was a member of the Pork Industry Board.

ENDS

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