News Blog Articles Ground-breaking, virtual reality, pig farm footage released

Ground-breaking, virtual reality, pig farm footage released

July 26th, 2017

Together with Farmwatch we have released a  brand-new investigation into pig farming in New Zealand, using both  hidden camera footage and a ground-breaking, New Zealand-first, look at a  pig farm with virtual reality technology.

The footage was obtained by Farmwatch at a pig factory farm in the Waikato, using  both hidden and hand-held cameras. It shows mother pigs (sows) confined  in farrowing crates, (cages in which they are kept on factory farms once  they have given birth), in which they are unable to turn around for  weeks on end and can even struggle to lie down. Their extreme boredom  causes them to repeatedly bite at the bars and one sow is shown  desperately trying to escape the cage. The footage also shows a sow  being repeatedly jabbed in the head with a pipe and piglets being thrown  into containers, while their distraught mothers cry out.

The unique immersive experience of viewing footage obtained by 360  degree-cameras in virtual reality, allows a powerful insight into what  life is like for sows imprisoned in farrowing crates. The footage shows a  farrowing crate from inside and the interior can be viewed from all  angles.                                                                                                                      

“Suffering of animals on New Zealand pig farms is sadly common place.  Despite continual public outcries over the years, sows are still  confined in metal cages little wider than themselves, living a life of  misery,” says SAFE campaigns director Mandy Carter. “Virtual reality  will allow the public to experience what NZ Pork would rather they did  not see. Now, with the 360-degree footage, people can see for themselves  and understand the desperation and boredom these animals experience  every day.”

Farrowing crates, used by some of the New Zealand pig industry,  breach the Animal Welfare Act because they prevent pigs from expressing  their normal behaviour. The government animal welfare committee,  (NAWAC), agrees that farrowing crates do not meet the requirements of  the Animal Welfare Act, yet is about to introduce a new regulation that  only requires the cage to be bigger than the sow inside it.

Following our earlier campaign, sow stalls (in which pigs were held  throughout their pregnancies), were banned on cruelty grounds in 2010.  Farrowing crates subject sows to the same mental deprivation and  emotional stress. It is time for the current government to take action  to uphold the law in New Zealand and ban these cruel crates, as the pork  industry has shown it is not going to change without pressure.

We are calling for an immediate ban on farrowing crates and have  launched a petition calling on the government to ensure mother pigs stop  being confined in cages.

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