NZ to ban sow stalls by 2015

Agriculture Minister David Carter has announced that the use of sow stalls on New Zealand pig farms will be banned by the end of 2015.

The changes are contained in the Animal Welfare Code (Pigs) Code of Welfare 2010, which comes into effect on Friday.

By December 2012, pigs will only be able to be kept in sow stalls for four weeks after mating and the practice will be banned altogether by December 2015.

Animal welfare groups have called for sow stalls to be banned because of the extremely cramped conditions they impose on pigs.

Mr Carter says the reality is that, worldwide, there is increasing opposition to highly intensive pig farming and New Zealand has an opportunity to play a leading role in banning sow stalls.

He says a five-year time frame will give farmers time to change their practices and train staff accordingly.

The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee received 18,000 submissions on the issue and Mr Carter says is clear consumers are concerned about how pigs are farmed.

"There is now an opportunity for the industry to positively present itself with one of the highest welfare codes in the world and to signal that to New Zealand consumers of pork."

Mr Carter says while farrowing crates can still be used when sows have piglets, these too will be phased out eventually.

Industry supports phase-out
The New Zealand Pork Industry supports the announcement to phase out sow stalls by December 2015.

The industry says the initial estimated cost for farmers to remove sow stalls will be in excess of $20 million over the period.

It says for the initiative to be successful, the industry will need support from the Government, consumers and the retail sector, and farmers will also need to be paid higher prices for locally-produced pork products.

The industry is collaborating with the Government, farmers and the National Animal Welfare Committee on the next step.

It says the collaboration places New Zealand's pork producers at the forefront of global animal welfare and provides an opportunity to differentiate itself against competitors who continue to use sow stalls.

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