New Zealand Pork chief executive 'disappointed' by farrowing crate decision

The chief executive of New Zealand Pork says he is "disappointed" at the High Court decision which recommended farrowing crates be phased out. 

A High Court judgement released on Friday found the minimum standards of farrowing crates and mating stalls for pigs are "unlawful and invalid" and told the Minister of Agriculture to consider phasing them out.

Mother pigs are put into farrowing crates before and after they give birth, to prevent them crushing their piglets - however the crates stop pigs performing their natural behaviours and have long been viewed as inhumane.

David Baines, NZ Pork chief executive, told Newshub his sector follows "world-leading animal welfare practices".

"Piglet-crushing is a welfare issue, and this system is the most effective at protecting piglets from being crushed by their mothers. This is why alternative indoor systems, such as farrowing pens, have not been widely adopted by farmers in any country, due to lower piglet survival."

However animal rights groups are celebrating the ruling, which they say is an "historic day for animals".

"After exhausting all other avenues to free mother pigs from cages, we had no other option but to take this landmark case to court," said SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton. 

For Ashton, the case was about giving mother pigs the freedom to live more natural lives, rather than just treating them like "units of production".