More than 5,000 OneKind supporters have written to the Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, Jim Fairlie, to urge the Scottish Government to consult on a phase out to farrowing crates for sows. 

The letters came after the Scottish Government launched its consultation on phasing out cages for egg-laying hens but omitted any proposals to phase out farrowing crates for mother pigs. This is despite a commitment to consult on a phase out to farrowing crates in their 2021-2022 Programme for Government. 

OneKind Director, Bob Elliot said: 

“Throughout the UK, mother pigs are routinely confined to cages that are barely bigger than their own bodies for up to 5 weeks. Just before she is due to give birth, a sow is placed in a farrowing crate, where she will remain until her piglets are taken away from her at 4 weeks old. 

“She is unable to turn around or walk; even standing up is difficult for her. She may get painful sores from lying on a solid surface and painful bites because selection for ‘productivity’ has led to litters that have more piglets than teats, creating competition to nurse. Her only interactions with her babies will be when they suckle through a barrier. 

“The Scottish Government has set out a vision for Scotland to be a Good Food Nation, but how can we claim that Scotland is such a nation when the use of farrowing crates continues? Such deprivation should not be tolerated in the 21st century.” 

On support for a ban, Bob commented: 

“The public support for a ban on farrowing crates is clear. Not only have 5,000 people written to the Minister in a matter of months, but polling also reveals that most Scots (63%) support the government assisting farmers to move from using farrowing crates to cage-free methods. 

“In late January, we also took our Stand Up for Pigs campaign exhibition to the Scottish Parliament, where we spoke with 29 MSPs from across all five main political parties. Our stall was kindly sponsored by Scottish Labour MSP, Colin Smyth, who supports our calls to ban farrowing crates in Scotland. And he is not alone – in March, 27 MSPs from five parties signed a motion lodged by Christine Grahame MSP, highlighting the concerns for sows in farrowing crates and outlining how the Scottish Government could end their use. 

“The Scottish Government must uphold its previous commitment to consult on a phase out to farrowing crates in Scotland. The time is now to Stand Up for Pigs.” 

Notes to Editor

  1. OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals.
  2. See the referenced polling carried out on behalf of Humane Society International United Kingdom here.
  3. More than 5,000 people have participated in OneKind’s campaign action
  4. Read about our parliamentary exhibition
  5. See the referenced Parliamentary motion here.