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Animal Welfare Campaigns To Continue



New Zealand's largest animal welfare organization has promised no let-up in aggressive public campaigning until bans are imposed on both sow stalls and battery cages for hens.

Peter Mason, President of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the organisation's Annual Conference in Wellington today (Saturday) that confrontational tactics would continue till change was achieved on both these issues.

"In the case of sow stalls, our public campaign only went ahead after months of negotiating with the pork industry to try an reach an acceptable solution," he said, adding that agreement had been frustrated by a small number of large-scale pig farmers who insisted on retaining the stalls.

Mr Mason described the Royal New Zealand SPCA's subsequent sow stall campaign as a resounding success, with over 65,000 New Zealanders sending submissions to the Minister of Agriculture calling for a ban.

The government-appointed National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is currently reviewing the Welfare Code for Pigs and is expected to propose changes to the code later this year.

With regard to battery cages, Mr Mason pointed out that discussions with the poultry industry have been going on since 1995, without significant headway being achieved.

"A tense meeting last year between ourselves and the industry confirmed that their position was well entrenched. An aggressive campaign was therefore launched, kick-started by two weeks of television advertising.

"This campaign has already resulted in more than 100,000 postcards being signed calling for a ban on battery cages. As we expect the campaign to run until the end of July, the total number of postcards that will be sent to the Minister is anybody's guess," he said.

"One point that both the pork and poultry industries need to take note of, is that we intend to confront them on these issues until we see change. Should NAWAC decide not to phase out sow stalls or battery cages, we will continue with our campaigns until a result is won," Mr Mason added.

Battery cages prevent hens from performing most of their normal activities, including walking, stretching their wings, pecking, scratching, nesting, foraging or dust-bathing. The birds tend to suffer from severe feather loss due to constant rubbing against the wire of the cage and are prone to leg weaknesses. The space allotted to each hen is smaller than an A4 sheet of paper.

Sow stalls, used by a minority of pig farmers to confine pregnant sows, are similarly constricting, preventing them from walking or turning around. According to the SPCA, the frustration and boredom caused by this extreme form of confinement can ultimately drive pigs insane.

Defining the SPCA's approach to animals as based on "compassionate consideration", Mr Mason told the conference that confrontational public campaigns were just one means of tackling animal welfare problems, with consultation remaining the organisation's preferred option.

For further information please contact: Peter Mason President Royal New Zealand SPCA 04 383 4026 025 461 680

Editors and reporters please note:

The Royal New Zealand SPCA Conference will take place on Saturday 18th May between 9.00 am and 5.00pm at the West Plaza Hotel, Wakefield Street, Wellington.

Released by Ian Morrison, Matter of Fact Communications Tel: 09 575 3223, Fax: 09 575 3220, Email:matfact@ww.co.nz

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