Monday, 1 August 2011

'Peaches the Pig' joins the Education team

The RSPCA Education team recently welcomed the arrival of a new team member: 'Peaches the Pig'. 'Peaches' is a life-sized fibreglass pig who will accompany the Education team to presentations and events, helping to promote awareness about the treatment of real pigs farmed for consumption (food) in Australia.

Some pig farms in Australia allow their pigs to go outdoors and roam but others only allow their pigs to live indoors, and often these pigs don't have much room to move around at all. A female pig is called a sow and sows that are pregnant may be kept in sow stalls or farrowing crates for most of their adult lives. A sow stall is a metal-barred crate. The floor of a sow stall is usually concrete, with a trench for manure (poo) at the end. A standard sow stall is just 2 metres long and 60cm wide, which provides just enough space for a sow to stand up in but not enough to allow her to turn around or take more than a short step forward or back. A farrowing crate is very similar to a sow stall but it is slightly narrower. Sows are moved into farrowing crates just before they have their piglets and are kept there for 3-4 weeks until their piglets are weaned (stop drinking their mother's milk).

Pig farmers argue that sow stalls and farrowing crates help to avoid aggression between sows, allow sows to be individually monitored, and protect sows and piglets. But pigs are intelligent, social animals that spend many hours every day exploring their environments and foraging. Pigs that are kept in sow stalls and farrowing crates have no opportunity to explore, or to interact socially with other pigs. They can become bored, stressed and frustrated. Because they are unable to exercise, their muscles and bones become weak and they may find it hard to do normal things like stand up or lie down.

The RSPCA (and 'Peaches') would like to see all pigs housed in a way that allows them to move freely, interact socially, and express their normal behaviours.   

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