Yesterday (10th March), Sir David Amess MP presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill to Parliament advocating for a ban on farrowing crates. If the Pig Husbandry (Farrowing) Bill becomes law, it would see the phasing out of farrowing crates for pigs across England by 2027.
The Bill was given permission to progress to a Second Reading.
Every year, over 200,000 sows are suffering in farrowing crates on farms across the UK where they are forced to give birth and then nurse their young through bars. The sows are only able to stand up or lie down until their piglets are weaned and taken away, usually at around four weeks of age. Our 2019 undercover exposé highlighted this cruelty.
Whilst some claim that farrowing crates prevent piglet deaths from crushing, science has been long-established and shows that numerous alternatives exist, which give the sow a reasonable amount of space. Research shows that well-designed and well-managed free farrowing pens can give mortality rates as low as, or even lower than, in crates, and provide many benefits for sow welfare too.
James West, our Senior Policy Manager, says: "Alternatives to farrowing crates, many of which are designed by British farmers and engineers, are already used commercially in the UK and elsewhere. We should be supporting British ingenuity, and pig welfare, by requiring the use of these higher welfare systems.”
When presenting the Bill, Sir David Amess MP concluded: “The Prime Minister himself stated, in this chamber, and I quote “there are measures we will be able to implement as a result of Brexit – such as banning sow farrowing crates. We must not waste this monumental opportunity provided by Brexit to position Britain as the global leader on farm animal welfare. This Bill is a significant step in delivering on that promise.”
“As one of the driving forces behind, and one of the first to implement, a ban on sow stalls across the European Union, the United Kingdom should not now be falling behind European Union Member States in the area of pig welfare. I hope that the Government will support this Bill to ensure that it becomes law and fully recognise the unnecessary pain and suffering sows experience in farrowing crates.”
We are so grateful to Joanna Lumley, our wonderful Patron, who backed the Bill and used her voice to raise awareness of the cruelty of farrowing crates, penning an op-ed in The London Economic. She was also featured in an article in The Times in which she explained her reason for supporting the Bill:
“Whilst imprisoned in farrowing crates these sensitive, intelligent animals are unable to express many natural behaviours. They can’t walk, let alone build nests for their piglets or forage for food. Instead, they bite and chew the bars and scrape at the floor in frustration. Many endure painful wounds and sores on their legs, feet and shoulders, caused by slipping or lying on the hard, slatted floors.”
A huge thanks also, to our fantastic supporters. Over 32,000 of you took action and emailed you MP, asking them to help End the Cage Age for pigs.
Over to Defra
“The Pig Husbandry (Farrowing) Bill is in line with the stated position of Defra Ministers and the Prime Minister, who has previously said that Brexit provides an opportunity to implement improvements in farm animal welfare,” adds James. “We are calling on Defra to take action and ensure the implementation of legislation that will ban farrowing crates for once and for all.”
We have written to Lord Goldsmith, the Minister with responsibility for animal welfare, urging the Government to adopt this Bill and bring it into law. You can read the letter here.