Agriculture Minister David Carter is playing political games when he says he that he wants to see if the intensive pig farming operation exposed by comedian Mike King is in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.
This farm is not just an aberration - the barbaric conditions exposed by King are the industry norm.
The New Zealand pig industry consistently focuses on profits and the increased exploitation of pigs rather than trying to resolve the serious welfare issues confronting the industry.
The use of dry sow stalls and farrowing crates and concrete pens for fattening pigs makes the pig industry one of the worst and cruellest offenders against animals.
Approximately thirty percent of New Zealand pig farmers use dry sow stalls which translates into confinement for 45 per cent of sows (21,000 animals).
The dry sow stall is a small metal-barred crate that is widely used on factory farms. The stall is so narrow the pregnant sow cannot turn around, let alone exercise. A sow stall is 60 centimetres wide and two metres long — just a fraction bigger than the sow herself. She will be confined in the sow stall for all or part of her 16-week pregnancy.
At the end of her pregnancy the sow is placed in a farrowing crate where she will give birth. As in the sow stall she can only stand up and lie down. With no straw for bedding, she scrapes her nose over the bare concrete floor in an attempt to build a nest for her piglets.
Sow stalls are banned in the United Kingdom and Sweden and will be soon phased out in Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Sweden and Switzerland have banned the farrowing crate.
The Animal Welfare Code for pigs has been place since 2005 and absolutely nothing has changed for the animals.
The code was signed off by Labour's Jim Sutton, a minister who consistently came down on the side of the NZ Pork Board. His successor, Jim Anderton, was no better.
The so-called 'welfare code' was actually written by the Pork Industry Board and effectively rubberstamped by the National Animal Advisory Committee (NAWAC).
Submissions from over 70,000 New Zealanders calling for the better treatment of pigs were ignored by the Pork Industry Board and NAWAC.
The Animal Welfare Code stipulates that animals must be allowed to express normal patterns of behaviour. But this means nothing because the code allows 'exemptions' to this requirement if, for example, keeping to the requirements of the Act will cause the collapse of an industry.
Organisations like Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) have long been campaigning to get this farcical welfare code overturned.