Author Topic: Victorian pig farmer makes the change under pressure  (Read 1096 times)

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Re: Victorian pig farmer makes the change under pressure
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2012, 05:56:35 PM »
Mr Bourke loves pigs so much that he breeds them just to be slaughtered. Gotta wonder about that sort of dichotomy.

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Re: Victorian pig farmer makes the change under pressure
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2012, 02:29:40 AM »
Change of heart Mr Hemsworth?

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Victorian pig farmer makes the change under pressure
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2012, 04:01:45 PM »
CENTRAL Victorian pig farmer John Bourke is no closet animal libber.

But already most of the 400 pregnant sows in his Stanhope piggery have been removed from the small steel pens where they used to be confined for most of their lives, following a major animal welfare campaign.

His pigs can now be found cavorting in deep straw litter or lying in pools of water in his new covered but open-air "eco-sheds". Groups of 15 to 20 sows will stay together for their four-month-long pregnancies.

Mr Bourke says it is his own decision, just as Australia's largest pig company Rivalea also moved to axe the use of sow stalls as a standard part of intensive farm management -- because of both marketing and community pressure.

"There's not a lot of science in (phasing out the use of sow stalls)," Mr Bourke said as he looked around his nearly empty sow-stall shed. "The perception is that pigs aren't happy in them and, while I think they actually can be part of the very best pig welfare and management systems, we all have to face up to the reality that it is not a good look and phase them out."

It's a big statement coming from Mr Bourke, president of the Victorian Farmers Federation pig group and a vociferous critic of campaigns waged since 2007 by animal welfare groups, the RSPCA, the Australian Greens -- and more lately Coles.

Animal groups claim the cramped pens -- too small to allow pregnant sows to turn around or walk more than a few small steps -- are cruel. The stalls have already been banned in England, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Florida.

But Australian pig producers have claimed sows need to be separated to prevent aggressive behaviour during their pregnancies which lead to food fights, vicious attacks, injuries and even deaths.

Coles announced two years ago that from 2014 it would no longer buy pork or bacon from farms with sow stalls.

Woolworths has been working more quietly behind the scenes with its suppliers to encourage change. It estimates that by the end of next year 94 per cent of its fresh pork will come from sow-stall-free piggeries.

On Thursday, American fast-food giant McDonalds added its weight to the anti-sow-stall push, with a call for its US pork suppliers to phase them out.

Paul Hemsworth, director of the Animal Welfare Science Centre at Melbourne University, says getting sows out of the cramped pens for their entire pregnancy is "certainly the right move".

"Research indicates that if sows are in a stall for their entire gestation there are serious welfare and behavioural concerns," Professor Hemsworth said. "What is less clear is whether there might not be some benefit in keeping them in individual stalls for a short time after mating and early in their pregnancy when they are most aggressive, purely for their own welfare."

Mr Bourke says the worst thing he has to do is pull a dead or badly injured sow from one of his new eco-barns or group pens after an attack, usually involving access to food.

But what's worse is the pain of being called a cruel farmer.

"I really love my pigs; I'd rather them than humans a lot of the time," he says, sitting stroking his pregnant sows.

"So it really hurts when they call me a cruel bastard; it sticks in your guts when I know what makes my pigs content and well looked after much better than that (animal welfare) mob who have just got no idea."

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/free-range-hogs-make-humans-happier/story-e6frg6nf-1226274231234