SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Pigs

Farmed Animals

SPCA supports farming practices that allow animals access to the outdoors, provided they are able to maintain comfort through unrestricted access to shade and shelter that protects them from the elements such as extreme temperatures, solar radiation, and inclement weather including rain, wind, hail, and snow. SPCA opposes the intensive rearing and/or tethering of pigs.

SPCA advocates that pigs are kept in stable long-term groups throughout their lives and must never be housed individually. Pigs should be provided with weatherproof shelters and have unrestricted access to outdoor areas with well-maintained ground and vegetative cover. Pigs of all ages need sufficient space and manipulable substrates to fulfil a range of species-specific behaviours (such as rooting, foraging, nesting and exploring) and where possible be provided with a suitable wallow. All pigs must have sufficient space to enable separation of areas for dunging, feeding, drinking, and lying. Lying areas must be well-drained, clean and dry with suitable bedding, and large enough to allow all pigs to lie comfortably on their sides at the same time without undue interference from other pigs. Tethering of pigs should not take place, unless it is for a brief period due to the administration of medical treatment or for a veterinary examination, and never unsupervised.

SPCA is concerned about the production demands placed on pigs and advocates for the welfare of pigs to remain paramount at all times.

SPCA opposes the breeding of sows to produce excessively high piglet numbers. Farmers should aim to produce litters of a size that sows can sustain throughout lactation without excessive maternal loss of body condition, and allow for adequate access of teats and sufficient milk supply for piglet growth and welfare. This should be achieved without the need for early weaning or routine cross-fostering. Piglets should be weaned naturally but, if this is not possible, piglets should not be weaned before they are largely independent of their mothers for food.

SPCA supports a move towards a farrowing system that protects the welfare of both the sow and the piglets. SPCA opposes the use of farrowing crates in their current practice.

Sows should be kept in stable groups with adequate space and functional areas in the pen. Farrowing and lactating sows should be kept in free-farrowing pens with manipulable material for nesting and bedding. The system must function in the best interests of the sow and her piglets, with low levels of piglet mortality.

(see Farrowing Crates for more details)

SPCA advocates for an end to routine painful husbandry procedures of pigs such as tail docking, teeth clipping, surgical castration and nose-ringing.

SPCA acknowledges that an end to routine painful husbandry procedures of pigs such as those listed above must be brought about alongside efforts to improve herd management to ensure that the welfare of the pig is not compromised. SPCA supports the development and implementation of improved genetics and husbandry practices, such as improving stocking densities and provision of suitable enrichment, to avoid the need for painful husbandry procedures such as tail docking, teeth clipping, and castration. If any painful husbandry procedures do take place, adequate and appropriate medical care must be provided prior to, during and after the operation, including anaesthesia and analgesia, and using methods that cause the least pain and distress.

(see Castration for more details)

(see Tail Docking for more details)

Nose ringing should not be used as a means to prevent environmental damage caused by pig rooting. Land should be assessed for suitability for outdoor pig farming, and alternative methods for maintaining ground cover such as providing sufficient enrichment material should be implemented.

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