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Blue Tick provides humane alternative to ‘factory’ pig farm

Blue Tick provides humane alternative to ‘factory’ pig farming

Consumers concerned about the treatment of animals on New Zealand pig farms can confidently buy humanely farmed pork certified by the Royal New Zealand SPCA Blue Tick programme.

Allegations on the Sunday programme last night about substandard conditions on a New Zealand pig farm are concerning but there was no indication that the problems are widespread, says RNZSPCA CEO Ric Odom.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is primarily responsible for ensuring the welfare of farm animals and generally does a good job. But the code of welfare that the Ministry enforces is a minimum standard and we would like to see higher standards introduced.

“Our own Blue Tick programme sets the bar higher for the humane treatment of farm animals – including pigs, chickens, and turkeys – and is independently audited by AsureQuality. We work with 25 Blue Tick accredited pig farms throughout New Zealand to ensure that they continue to meet our very high standards of animal welfare, ethical farming, and food quality.

“Dry sow stalls and farrowing crates are used on many pig farms to confine female pigs during various stages of pregnancy, often for weeks at a time. The devices are so small the pigs can’t turn around or exhibit natural behaviours. This is unacceptable from an animal welfare standpoint, which is why these devices are not permitted on Blue Tick accredited farms.

“Sow stalls are being phased out and will be illegal in New Zealand after December 2015. We would like to see them gone immediately, along with farrowing crates.”

Meanwhile, the Royal New Zealand SPCA recognises that recent changes to the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill represent good progress towards a clearer and more enforceable set of animal welfare standards that will make a real difference to the SPCA’s work across the country.

“When the Bill is passed, SPCA Inspectors will have an improved set of tools at their disposal, including the ability to issue ‘infringement notices’ and ‘notices to comply’. We expect this to have a huge positive impact and act as a real deterrent to offending,” says Mr Odom.

However, the Bill stops short of fully addressing a number of other issues, including animal testing and the phasing out of some intensive farming practices.

“In our submission we called for the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching to be phased out altogether and replaced with non-animal models. We will continue to strive for a complete ban on animal testing for all purposes – including cosmetics and recreational drugs – and in the meantime insist that animal testing should only be carried out as an absolute last resort.”

The RNZSPCA is also concerned that the Bill will not bring forward the phasing out of some ‘factory farming’ methods, including battery farming of chickens and the use of farrowing crates for pigs. In some cases, a transition period of up to 15 years will be allowed.

“We would like to see these farming methods ‘gone by lunchtime’ and are disappointed that the transition period has not been shortened. Our independently audited Blue Tick programme offers the animals some hope, however, because it enables consumers to choose humanely farmed products rather than factory farmed alternatives.

“We urge New Zealanders who really care about animal welfare to ‘vote with their feet’, exercise their buying power, and make a point of buying only Blue Tick certified products,” says Mr Odom.


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