Would you like to see and hear material about the Australian pig meat industry from two different perspectives? Here are images from Animal Liberation ACT (ALACT), said to be from Golden Grove Piggery and Dead Horse Gully Piggery in NSW, which the activist organisation’s website, Aussiepigs, indicates are owned by Blantyre Farms Pty Ltd, whose shareholders are Edwina and Michael Beveridge .
Farrowing Crates and Sow Stalls
The Golden Grove images are of farrowing crates. Despite all the talk and PR in Australia about “sow stall free” pork, there seems to be no suggestion that producers will cease using farrowing crates.
Besides, no-one seems to be suggesting that sow stalls will be eliminated from their supply chain altogether, so “sow stall free” does not appear to mean “sow stall free”. (Silly me, why should I have thought it would?) Even Coles is allowing sow stalls to be used for up to 24 hours per pregnancy. For as long as stalls remain, how can we be sure that each sow will not be confined for longer than the permitted period?
One of the images above appears to show a piglet who has been crushed by his or her mother. The Aussiepigs site states:
“A number of piglets were killed or severely injured by ‘overlay’, where the sows lie on top of their piglets, crushing them. The industry claims farrowing crates prevent overlay. Yet the footage from Blantyre Farms completely undermines such a claim. The footage shows that where sows have difficulty standing or lying and cannot move away from their young, and where piglets have little room of their own, overlay is inevitable.”
In his book “The Pig who sang to the Moon”, author Jeffrey Masson described a sow’s nesting process:
“In the wild, . . . sows getting ready to give birth will often construct protective nests as high as three feet. They line these farrowing nests with mouthfuls of grass and sometimes even manage to construct a roof made of sticks – a safe and comfortable home-like structure. On modern pig farms, where the mother is forced to give birth on concrete floors, her babies are often crushed when she rolls over. This never happens in the wild because the baby simply slips through the nest and finds her way back to her own teat.”
The Industry’s Position Regarding the Role of Animal Activists
You can hear Ms Beveridge’s comments regarding the activists investigations, along with comments from Andrew Spencer of peak industry body Australian Pork Ltd, in this report of 5th November 2013 from the ABC’s Lateline program.
Edwina Beveridge appears to be a respected pig meat producer. So is Ean Pollard of Lansdowne Piggery, who also appears in the Lateline segment. His piggery was investigated by ALACT earlier this year. They are two of eleven piggeries that ALACT have secretly investigated to date.
In my opinion, the message is one of consistent horror, yet all the industry seems to do is attack the activists.
What About Free Range?
Another producer, Otway Pork recently lost its “Paw of Approval” accreditation from the RSPCA, after Animal Liberation Victoria exposed its so-called “free range” operations. According to The Age newspaper, the RSPCA earns a royalty in exchange for its “Paw of Approval” accreditation equal to 2% of product sales. The RSPCA does not appear to have stated publicly its reason for removing Otway Pork’s accreditation. According to ALV, the RSPCA saw the undercover footage of Otway Pork in December 2012, but “the endorsement was underhandedly withdrawn in July this year”, a delay of eight months.
Some More Thoughts on Animal Cruelty
If you eat pig meat, who can you trust in terms of animal cruelty and product quality? In any event, much of the cruelty is perfectly legal, due to exemptions from anti-cruelty legislation in favour of producers.
One of those forms of cruelty is tail docking without anaesthetic. Here’s some more from Aussiepigs in relation to the Golden Grove and Dead Horse Gully Piggeries:
“Workers at Blantyre Farms’ Golden Grove Piggery cut off the tails and teeth of piglets, and cut sections out of their ears, all without pain relief. Tails are discarded in the aisles and sometimes even end up in the food trolley. Tail cutting is performed by the majority of piggeries in Australia as an attempt to prevent cannibalism (tail biting) once the pigs are moved into overcrowded ‘grower’ sheds which completely lack stimulation. Despite the tail cutting, Blantyre’s grower facility, DHG, has a severe cannibalism problem.”
“At DHG, pigs are crammed into overcrowded sheds where they do not see sunlight until they are being trucked off to the Cowra abattoir. Out of boredom, they eat at the stubs of each others’ tails, leaving large bleeding wounds. From the nature of the wounds, it appears that little or no effort is made to treat these injuries.”
The best way to avoid cruelty to animals is to stop consuming products and services derived from them in the form of food, clothing, entertainment and the like.
Blog Author: Paul Mahony (also on Slideshare, Scribd, and Twitter)
Note: This article first appeared on the author's Terrastendo website on 6th November, 2013, with the following edits on 17th January, 2014: (a) Images added to gallery, including some that are said to be from Dead Horse Gully Piggery; (b) Reference to Animal Liberation NSW deleted, as the Aussiepigs website now only refers to Animal Liberation ACT.
Related articles and other material:
Pig Cruelty with Curtis and Coles
Some thoughts on “The truth about pig farms”
Open letters on free range pig farming
The plight of pigs: Oliver’s Piggery, Tasmania
The Australian pig meat industry via Melbourne Pig Save
Courtesy of aussiepigs.com