“Ground-Breaking, virtual reality, pig farm footage released”July 26th, 2017
SAFE and Farmwatch 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 never before witnessed 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 they are kept in 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 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 the public to gain a powerful insight into what life is like for sows imprisoned in farrowing crates. With the innovative use of a virtual reality headset, viewers are transported inside the farm shed, trapped alongside the pigs.
SAFE is calling for an immediate ban on farrowing crates, which breach New Zealand law, and have launched a petition calling on the government to ensure mother pigs stop being confined in cages.
“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. 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, which is a requirement of the act. The government animal welfare committee, (NAWAC), agrees that farrowing crates do not meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, yet, as announced last week, it is about to introduce a new regulation that only requires the cage to be barely bigger than the sow inside it.
Following a campaign by SAFE, 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.
“Sweden, Switzerland and Norway have already banned farrowing crates, and some farms here already do not use them. This is another example of profit being put above animal welfare, and it is time for the government to take action to uphold the law and ban these cruel crates, as the pork industry has shown it is not going to change without pressure. The new regulations are an opportunity to get rid of this cruelty altogether.”
The SAFE petition is part of the campaign to help mother pigs by banning farrowing crates.