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Campaigners call for pig industry to be banned

Animal rights groups have called for pig farming to be banned in Ireland after they obtained footage from two farms that the campaigners say depicts severe animal cruelty.

The National Animal Rights Association (NARA) and Animal Rebellion Ireland said the footage was secretly recorded on two Irish pig farms in January.

The footage shows sows in farrowing crates which restrict their movement while they are feeding piglets, and in sow stalls where the animals cannot turn around and cannot move more than a few inches.

The video contains footage of sick pigs, some with wounds, and examples of pigs and piglets whose tails have been “docked” or cut off, a practice that is illegal, although exceptions to the law do exist.

Spokesperson for the NARA Laura Broxson said they were not prepared for the cruel treatment the video captured and have called for the pig industry to be shut down.

She said: “If dogs and cats were kept in such conditions there would be national outrage, legal prosecutions and changes in legislation to prohibit them continuing.

“The pig industry is an abomination that needs to be eliminated from this country … We don’t need to kill animals in order to live.

“Transitioning to a vegan agricultural system in Ireland is not only possible, but a moral necessity and a good place to start is by banning pig farming.”

The campaigners said they have given the footage to the Department of Agriculture, but have not received a response.

The department said that it will investigate any alleged breaches of pig welfare requirements if evidence is given to it, and will take appropriate action where non-compliance or poor welfare is identified.

In a statement issued in response to the allegations, it said that Irish pig farms are subject to national and European pig welfare regulations, and department officials regularly inspect pig farms on that basis.

The Department of Agriculture also said that it has a number of initiatives to support improvements in pig welfare, including action plans which the sector has engaged with, and the provision of grants to support higher-welfare buildings and infrastructure on farms.

The Irish Farmers’ Association, which represents most of the country’s pig farmers, issued a statement defending the industry saying “Irish farmers operate to the highest standards and are audited regularly”.

“Irish pig production is an important farming sector for hundreds of farm families and provides consumers with quality-assured pork and bacon reared sustainably.”

CSO figures show that 3.3 million pigs were slaughtered in Ireland in 2023, a decline of 9% on the previous year.

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