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Pig protestor chains himself to silo

Sunday 11 Apr 2010 4:44 p.m.

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By Jono Hutchison

A man has chained himself to a silo on a Waikato farm to protest pig farming practices in New Zealand.

The Government is reviewing welfare standards for pigs and animal rights activists are stepping up their campaign efforts.

Activist John Darroch set up his protest on top of a silo at a pig farm in Cambridge.

“The pigs in the farm around me have absolutely no quality of life whatsoever,” he says.

“They're being kept in conditions that if you or I kept our dog or cat in we'd be prosecuted for.”

Deirdre Sims of NZ Open Rescue says their complaint is not with this specific farm, but with the industry as a whole.

“What we're basically doing is protesting against factory farming of pigs, specifically sows kept in sow stalls and farrowing crates,” she says.

The Government is reviewing the code of welfare for pigs.

A draft proposal suggests that dry sow stalls and farrowing crates should be phased out eventually but not until there are viable alternatives.

New Zealand Pork says it has commissioned an independent audit of conditions around the country.

“Consumers are telling us that they did have some concerns about what they'd seen or heard, that they wanted us to respond to it,” says Sam McIvor, of the Pork Industry Board.

Mr McIvor says it's also important for New Zealand farmers to remain competitive.

“We have approximately 700,000 kgs of imported product coming in every week into New Zealand; those systems aren't required to meet any welfare standards,” he says.

Today's protest was organised by a group called Open Rescue, which also secretly filmed footage at three Waikato farms.

The protesters conducted their own tours of the farm, undisturbed.

“You can see some wounds on some of the sows here, from rubbing up against the sides of the crate,” says Michael Brenndorfer of NZ Open Rescue.

“These are horrible conditions, and I can't really see any justification for them.”

Back on top of the silo, Mr Darroch had come prepared with enough supplies to stay for two days - that is, if he's not cut down first.

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