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RSPCA Leads Calls To Ban Sow Stalls

by 5m Editor
14 July 2006, at 10:09am

AUSTRALIA - RSPCA Australia has today welcomed the increased attention on the use of sow stalls that has resulted from a story screened on the Seven Network’s Today Tonight programme.

Public reaction to the story has been strong with the RSPCA receiving many enquiries from viewers horrified by the footage. The RSPCA has long been opposed to the use of sow stalls and wants them banned in favour of free-range or group housing systems.

RSPCA Chief Scientist Dr Bidda Jones said the animal welfare organisation was already involved in a review of the code of practice that governs pig farming.

“We’re heartened by the public reaction to this story, which has enabled consumers to see the reality of how most pork, bacon and ham products are produced,“ said Dr Jones.

“The RSPCA believes significant improvements in the treatment and conditions for farmed pigs can be achieved by working with government and industry to make sure welfare is prioritised in this code,“ she said.

“But the RSPCA remains strongly opposed to the use of sow stalls and will continue to push for an end to their use in Australia,“ she said. The proposed code places a restriction on the length of time sows can spend in a stall (from 16 weeks down to 6 weeks), to be phased in over 10 years.

Dr Jones said the RSPCA did not believe this proposition would adequately address the welfare issues of sow stalls. “We recognise that producers need time, money and training to adjust to a new management system, but we believe 10 years is more than adequate to allow for a complete phase-out of sow stalls altogether,“ she said.

Pigs are highly intelligent and social animals that naturally live in small stable groups with strong bonds between individuals. Sow stalls prevent pigs from interacting naturally, resulting in unresolved aggression and the development of repetitive behaviours (biting of bars, head swaying etc).

The restriction of movement and lack of exercise for sows in stalls can also lead to wasting of muscle and reduced bone strength, resulting in pain and difficulty in standing up or lying down.

The RSPCA provides easy-to-understand information about the code of practice and issue in pig farming on its website at http://www.rspca.org.au/campaign/pigfarm.asp.

RSPCA South Australia will be inspecting the piggery shown in the television footage, but does not anticipate finding any breaches of the law, as minimum sizes for sow stalls are currently only suggested under the code of practice and are therefore not enforceable.

ThePigSite News Desk

5m Editor