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Compassion advert prompts re-think by Pig Farmers

News Section Icon Published 27/03/2009

Recent adverts run by Compassion in World Farming have prompted an encouraging response from the British pig industry. The farming magazine, 'Pig World' has launched a campaign to discourage the use of teeth clipping amongst British farmers.

The stated aim of their campaign is to "improve the image of the pig industry" and is a direct response to Compassion's recent advertising that focussed on teeth clipping - one of the hidden cruelties of modern intensive farming.

Most pigs reared for meat around the world are confined in barren, overcrowded sheds where many never see daylight. Kept on bare concrete or fully slatted floors with no straw for bedding or rooting, they are unable to express their natural behaviour. With nothing for these intelligent, inquisitive creatures to do, they become bored and frustrated and resort to biting each others' tails.

Instead of providing a more stimulating environment, it is common for farmers to dock piglets' tails to reduce injuries from biting. Piglets also often have their teeth clipped shortly after birth to minimise biting injuries to the teats of sows and to other piglets. Like tail docking, this is usually carried out without anaesthetic or pain relief, and can cause lasting pain. The damage caused to teeth also makes them prone to infection. These mutilations are not necessary if pigs are kept in high welfare systems.

This video shows scenes of animal cruelty and tooth clipping filmed undercover in intensive factory farms

Piglet Tooth Clipping

This video shows scenes of animal cruelty and tooth clipping filmed undercover in intensive factory farms, which viewers may find distressing.

This is not unusual or extraordinary - just routine practice in intensive pig farms.

Some in the pig industry are now calling for farmers to adopt "teeth grinding" as an alternative to teeth clipping.

"They stopped teeth-clipping in Denmark years ago-but we still do it here because most producers are not prepared to give teeth-grinders a fair chance, even though they are significantly more welfare friendly," said a spokesman for the British campaign.

Compassion believes that all mutilations of farm animals are unacceptable and unnecessary (including teeth grinding) but it is encouraging to see the pig industry accept the fact that animal welfare does need to be improved:

"Teeth grinding is initially more difficult than clipping but is so much more humane because you don't touch the nerve or damage the skin exposing the pig to bacteria and virus."
Industry spokesman

Whilst this is an encouraging response from the pig industry, Compassion will continue to push for an end to all mutilations of pigs, whether these be teeth clipping, teeth grinding, castration or tail docking.

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