SAFE and the New Zealand Animal Law Association (NZALA) last week filed proceedings against the Government for their failure to act on the ongoing use of farrowing crates. This is the first case that SAFE and the NZALA are partnering on to seek legal justice for animals.
The organisations will show that farrowing crates and mating stalls breach the Animal Welfare Act 1999 since they do not allow sows to express natural behaviour and that the process by which the current farrowing crate regulation was put in place was unlawful.
SAFE spokesperson, Hans Kriek, says that farmers have been allowed to continue using farrowing crates despite the fact that they breach the Act. Even the Government’s own animal welfare advisor, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) has stated that crates do not provide for the behavioural needs of mother pigs.
By bringing these proceedings, SAFE and NZALA wish to compel NAWAC and the Minister to act lawfully, improve their legal procedures, and adopt a more robust legal understanding of their duties.
“Profit is being put before the welfare of mother pigs, who must endure stressful conditions confined to a metal crate, where they are prevented from expressing much of their natural behaviour,” says Mr Kriek.
“These crates are so small, the pigs can’t even turn around. This is not only cruel but contrary to the intentions and obligations of the Animal Welfare Act.”
NZALA Vice-President Cassandra Kenworthy says “NAWAC has stated on multiple occasions that the use of farrowing crates does not meet the obligations of the Animal Welfare Act. Despite this, successive Governments have failed to take action and it has now come to the stage where we must file proceedings for their failure to uphold the law.”
Not only are farrowing crates illegal, but they’re also unnecessary. The latest research from Sweden shows that loose housing of sows can provide for the needs of both sows and piglets.
“We’re behind other countries on this. The social licence of farrowing crates has expired. The cruel confinement of mother pigs to small crates should have been phased out in New Zealand many years ago, as the Act required,” says Mr Kriek.
“We will argue our case in court and ensure the Government takes action to ensure farrowing crates are removed from the pig industry.”