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"Quit stalling!" Says SPCA

A final plea to quit stalling and phase out the cruel dry sow stall, a metal crate used to individually house pregnant sows, is being made to New Zealand pork producers by the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

In an open letter to the producers before their AGM tomorrow, SPCA National President Peter Mason writes: "The eyes of the SPCA, and consumers all over the country, are on you at this crucial time, with the expectation that you will make an historic decision to discontinue the use of the dry sow stall."

Sow stalls are so small that the pigs are unable to walk or even turn around, which causes severe stress and suffering. Over 20,000 pigs are kept in dry sow stalls in New Zealand.

The SPCA has been negotiating with the Pork Industry Board for a phase-out of the stalls, but its patience is running out, Peter Mason said last night. "We see tomorrow's (Tuesday's) AGM as the perfect opportunity for pork producers to finally meet public expectations to end the use of these cruel stalls. Should they fail to ban the sow stall, the SPCA will embark on a nationwide campaign with the aim of uniting consumers against the industry," said Mr Mason.

A demand that the pigs be given the opportunity to express normal patterns of behaviour, as required by the Animal Welfare Act 1999, will also be made to the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and the Minister of Agriculture, Jim Sutton.

This requirement is crucial to the forthcoming NAWAC review of the Welfare Code for Pigs, said Mr Mason. "All we are asking is for NAWAC and the Minister to be true to the spirit of our animal welfare legislation and ban this inhumane confinement system."

The sow stall was banned in the UK in 1999 and is currently being phased out in the European Union.

***

An open letter to New Zealand pork producers attending the industry's AGM on Tuesday.

Dear industry representative

On behalf of SPCA members and caring consumers nationwide, the Royal New Zealand SPCA urges you to support our call for a phase-out of the cruel dry sow stall.

Over the past few years, it has become clear that New Zealanders are opposed to extreme confinement systems for farm animals. The dry sow stall, where a pregnant sow is confined in a 60 cm wide crate, unable to walk or even turn around, is considered particularly abhorrent.

The time has now come for your industry to take a decisive stand on this issue. Your AGM provides you with the opportunity to acknowledge public opinion and vote for a phase-out of this outdated and inhumane production system.

We understand that some producers want to continue using the dry sow stall for up to six weeks at the start of each pregnancy. Any use of the sow stall is completely unacceptable on animal welfare grounds. To continue using these stalls would fly in the face of public opinion and would reflect badly on the entire pork industry. This will no doubt lead to ongoing campaigns against the industry, and a consequential drop in consumer support for your products.

The eyes of the SPCA, and consumers all over the country, are on you at this crucial time, with the expectation that you will make an historic decision to discontinue the use of the dry sow stall.

Peter Mason
SPCA National President


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