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Year of Pig a chance to improve pork purchasing

by 5m Editor
12 February 2007, at 9:29am

NEW ZEALAND - With Chinese New Year celebrations for the ‘year of the pig’ about to begin let’s spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of pigs that exist in misery just so we can consume pork.

Figures recently announced by the Pork Industry Board suggest that New Zealanders are consuming more pork than ever, with a record 20.6kg per capita for the year ended September 2006 (a rise of half a kilogram per person).

Disappointingly nearly all of the pork sold and consumed in New Zealand is intensively farmed. Intensive farming is often also known as “factory” or “battery” farming. It is where pigs are confined indoors, often in extremely cramped quarters, restricted by metal bars and concrete floors.

Intensive farmers claim that this style of farming is the most inexpensive way to mass-produce pork. However, free-range pig farmers sell their products for only slightly more than intensive farmers.

Confined pigs can suffer from boredom and depression and are also prone to lameness and painful chronic joint disorders as well as heart, lung, urinary and digestive diseases.

By now most consumers agree that the intensive farming conditions where 600,000 to 800,000 pigs are kept annually for pork production is considered inhumane.

However, consumers need to start exercising their purchasing power and demand free-range pork. The principle of free-range farming is to allow the animals as much freedom as possible, to live out their instinctual behaviours in a natural way.

Free-range pigs are farmed, the way nature intended. The pigs are free to roam around in grass fields and large straw shelters and are able to behave just as they naturally would – foraging, wallowing in mud holes and making nests from straw. This means no sow crates, no farrowing crates, no cages, no concrete pens and no growth hormones.

Freedom Farms is one such company specialising in free-range pork. Their farms are found at the foot of the Southern Alps in Canterbury and are independently audited by the SPCA according to strict animal welfare codes (the only pork producers to be SPCA certified).

By choosing free-range pork, pressure will be put on intensive farmers. It is only then that they will begin to look for ways to improve their animal welfare standards and that the lives of thousands of pigs will be improved.

So this Chinese New Year, spare a thought for the pig and change your pork buying habits. Make sure your pork is labeled and independently certified as free range.

ThePigSite News Desk

5m Editor