Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Ban the farrowing crate

Sentenced because she's a mother

The farrowing crate is one of the very worst of factory farming’s hidden horrors. Hundreds of thousands of pregnant sows are shut into these tiny cages a week before they give birth - and remain imprisoned until their piglets are three to four weeks old. The crate is just inches wider and longer than the sow’s own body: for up to thirty-five days, every four or five months, she can do nothing but stand up, lie down, suckle her piglets and stare at a blank wall. This terrible frustration can turn into aggression: more than one-in-eight piglets are savaged to death by their own mothers. Limbs aching from inactivity, skin rubbed raw by the bars and their maternal instincts utterly frustrated, mother pigs suffer from stress, pain and psychological torture in the crate.

Many piglets are born into their mother’s excrement. After that, they are confined to the tiny, barren “creep” area next to the cage - with nothing to do but suckle and fight over their mother’s milk. By three weeks old wild piglets are normally found up to 30 metres from the sow, exploring their environment and trying out new foods - no such stimulation for these intelligent, curious little animals in the crate. After a month of confinement and misery, the piglets are “weaned”, ie taken away to be fattened for slaughter. Weaning takes place months before it should naturally occur and the piglets, unused to solid food, suffer from scours - pitiful, wasting diarrhoea. They are then given a cocktail of drugs on a daily basis. Their mothers, meanwhile, are given just a few days before being reimpregnated, and starting the whole 16 week cycle again.

The farrowing crate is designed with one purpose only: to maximise the ‘production’ of pigs. All considerations of animal welfare are sacrificed to that goal. It is, therefore, not just an appalling practice in its own right, but a symbol of everything that is evil about factory farming. That is why this campaign is so important. Viva! is committed to the abolition of the farrowing crate not just for its own sake but as an integral part of the struggle to end factory farming and meat consumption itself.

Viva!'s brand new action pack contains sample letters to MPs and the press, postcards to send to supermarkets and the Government and all the information you need to help the campaign against the crate. Order here online.

Campaign materials

The farrowing crate is a small metal cage in which pregnant sows are...