Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

PHOTO CALL Unhappy Mother's Day at M&S as Local Protesters Demand end to Cruelty

Release date: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Note: Contact Justin or Anne at Viva! on 0117 944 1000 to find out if there are supporters local to you holding a photo call. Hundreds of local campaigners from around the UK will be taking part in Viva!'s National Day of Action Against Marks & Spencer on Saturday March 17 " the day before Mother's Day. They will be protesting against the store's treatment of pregnant and mothering sows who are locked in restrictive metal cages called farrowing crates for a month at a time. Wearing plastic pig noses and ears, local protesters will ask concerned shoppers to sign a giant Mother's Day card, urging M&S to stop using the crate, which will then be handed to the store manager. Posters will include the slogans Unhappy Mother's Day for M&S Pigs and M&S: Get Pigs out of Crates. Leaflets handed to shoppers will carry the slogan This is not just torture " this is M&S Torture. Viva!'s campaign at a national level is to be fronted by Heather Mills, estranged wife of Paul McCartney, and follows a major expos' of M&S farming practices. Claiming high animal welfare standards, the store does sell some pig meat from piglets born outdoors but much of it still comes from piglets born in the farrowing crate. Pregnant pigs are confined in these small metal cages immediately before giving birth and remain there until their piglets are removed and forcibly weaned a month later. Unable even to turn around, to mother their piglets naturally or take more than a couple of steps, sows suffer from stress, pain and the frustration of their powerful maternal instincts in the crate. It can lead to mental collapse. At least 70 per cent of all Britain's sows are confined in these conditions for at least two-and-a-half months every year. Their new-born piglets are restricted to a small "creep' area of the crate and are deprived of all stimulation and mothering. 'A company that claims to have animal welfare standards second to none should not be using a contraption that would look more at home in a medieval torture chamber,' says Viva!'s Justin Kerswell. "We are calling on M&S to respect motherhood this Mother's Day and move all mothering pigs into the open air and confine the cruel farrowing crate to history - where it belongs. We are asking consumers to boycott all pig meat and get their teeth into some cruelty-free veggie meals instead.' Almost all nine million pigs raised for meat every year in the UK are factory farmed in overcrowded, ill-lit, filthy conditions that cause extreme discomfort and stress to these intelligent animals. 1.2 million piglets will die on British farms every year before they are weaned at 3 to 4 weeks old. Viva! has filmed in dozens of intensive pig farms and has found neglect and suffering in all of them. For more information to find out if a event is happening near you, or to find out more about Viva!'s campaign or for still images, call Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or visit http://www.piggles.org.uk To view Viva!'s undercover film of Heather Mill's investigation of a British pig farm visit http://www.viva.org.uk/heathervideo [embargoed until Thursday 15 March] [ends]