Barren conditions are one of the many factors that contribute to animal suffering in factory farming.
Compassion in World Farming's Netherlands office has just launched a campaign to encourage pig farmers in the country to give their animals straw and stop routine tail docking without anaesthetic.
Supporters of the campaign are having their photos taken with a cartoon cardboard pig, whose tail they can place anywhere on the animal. In the curl of the tail it says: "Straw for pigs!"
Compassion Netherlands staff are touring the country with their cardboard pig, raising awareness of the situation in the country.
Under the EU Pigs Directive, farmers are obliged to give their pigs "manipulable material" i.e. straw for them to forage in, and routine tail docking is not permitted. Shockingly, a major Compassion investigation into pig farms in several EU nations in 2008 revealed widespread tail docking and lack of straw.
In the Netherlands, 88% of farms we visited had little or no enrichment for the pigs and every one of them docked the animals' tails.
Compassion Netherlands' Director Geert Laugs says: "The sad fact is that most pigs endure routine mutilation to adapt them to the inhumane conditions of factory farming. Docking happens because the barren conditions they are kept in, with no straw to root around in, mean that they chew each others' tails in frustration. Not giving pigs straw or a similar material is illegal under EU law. It is time the law was properly enforced."
He adds: "The people we have been speaking to on the street so far have been horrified by the conditions pigs are raised in and happy to have a photo taken for the campaign."
The photos are all being posted on Facebook and will be added to an album to be presented to politicians and supermarkets at the end of the campaign.
Find out more:
- See our 2008 investigation which showed the condition of pig farming in the EU