Campaigns group calls for a complete ban on all pig farrowing crates
Footage from a recent covert investigation at a pig breeding unit by Heather Mills (McCartney) is to form the central plank of a campaign to ban the farrowing crate from pig production. She is working with the animal campaigns group Viva! and recently visited a pig farm with them to film the cruelty that most breeding sows have to endure.
On Thursday, 15 March 2007 at 11.15am, at College Green, (opposite the House of Lords), Heather will call on the government to end the use of farrowing crates in pig production by handing in a giant Mother's Day card with the words No Happy Mother's Day for Britain's Pigs " Ban the Farrowing Crate to Tony Blair. The card will be received by Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East.
Later, at 12 noon, outside Marks & Spencer's Marble Arch store in Oxford Street, she will hand to the store manager a second Mother's Day card signed by shoppers. It will carry the message - This is not just TORTURE " this is M&S TORTURE. On the reverse will be a message asking M&S to end its use of the farrowing crate.
Ms Mills will also be wearing a portable TV screen showing footage of her recent covert visit to a farrowing unit with Viva! investigators and will describe to customers what she saw and her shocked reactions to it. Viva! supporters will be in attendance wearing pig ears and noses, handing leaflets to shoppers and holding placards reading M&S: GET PIGS OUT OF CRATES
Farrowing crates are metal cages only a little bigger than a pig's body in which the sows are held captive for a month or more every time they give birth. They can take little more than a pace or two forward and back but can never turn around and cannot mother their young. More than 70 per cent of all UK sows are subjected to this torture.
'I was truly disgusted by what I saw', says Heather Mills. "Intelligent animals who wanted to nuzzle their young but couldn't, who had only cold, hard metal on which to sleep and who faced the appalling stress of barely being able to move and never being able to turn around. Farrowing crates should be banned immediately - they are a barbaric throwback to a different age and are nothing more than a legalised form of animal abuse.
"Of course sows suffer terrible stress in these cages as they try desperately to fulfil their natural nurturing role and the outcome can be mental collapse. To claim that Britain has the highest standards of animal welfare in the world, which the industry does, is nothing more than a joke. If M&S want its high welfare claims to be taken seriously then it has to start by refusing to sell meat from these cruel systems.'
Viva! is targeting M&S as a first step in this new campaign because of their claims to have the highest possible animal welfare standards.
'the store claims that all their fresh pork comes from sows that have farrowed outdoors in free-range farrowing arcs', says Juliet Gellatley, founder and director of Viva!. "It makes no mention that most of the sows who produce pig meat for other products are regularly confined in farrowing crates.
"Viva! believes that the farrowing crate and good animal welfare are a contradiction in terms and is calling on M&S to ban its use immediately. Waitrose has shown that it can be done but all other supermarkets persist with it and we will eventually be targeting them also. Viva!'s aim is to ban farrowing crates entirely', concludes Ms Gellatley.
Note to editors : it is not known if the farm that Ms Mills visited, and the farms shown in other Viva! footage, supply Marks and Spencer. However, the farrowing crates shown are of a standard type and similar to those used by M&S, as confirmed in a meeting between M&S and Viva!. The footage can be viewed in full on-line at http://www.viva.org.uk/heathervideo and broadcast copies are available on request.
Print quality photos of Ms Mills' investigation are available. They can be used only on the condition that Viva! is mentioned and credited. Photos of typical farrowing crates are also available.
Further information, contact Justin Kerswell or Juliet Gellatley on 0117 944 1000 (mobiles 07862 173377 or 07971 425508)