CIWF's anger at Horizon

Animal welfare bosses have hit out at programme makers following last night's Horizon in which organic pig production was compared to intensive.

The documentary, entitled Supermarket Secrets, aimed to examine some of the popular myths and claims surrounding our food and grocery products.

However it has angered Compassion in World Farming which said it was shocked and appalled by welfare claims broadcast on the programme.

Horizon contrasted organic farming systems for pigs with intensive systems using farrowing crates.

Peter Stevenson, chief policy adviser, said: "We are incredulous that Horizon is willing to portray a farming system which does not allow sows to exercise any natural mothering behaviours or even turn around, as acceptable. The reality is the complete opposite."

Intensive producer point to the fact the crates are better for the piglets, reducing mortality rates as the mother is unable to roll over, accidentally crushing her young.

However CIWF claimed this is not the case. It said research showed the mortality rate of piglets in outdoor herds which do not use farrowing crates is 9.46 per cent, and claimed mortality rates are actually higher in indoor systems which do use farrowing crates, averaging at 11.60 per cent.

Stevenson added: "The assertion by the farmer in the Horizon programme that farrowing crates are analogous to a hospital is quite frankly laughable. If anything, they are rather like a prison.

"A recent report by the European Food Safety Authority is immensely critical of farrowing crates. It points out that these crates prevent sows from engaging in their natural nest building behaviours and can lead to stress, frustration, injuries, wounds and disease."

However, pig bosses hit back at CIWF's claims. A spokesman said: "The farrowing crate was developed some 40 to 50 years ago as a natural tool to reduce crushing and the unnecessary loss of otherwise viable and healthy piglets.

"Due to its success, the crate continues to be used worldwide in indoor systems throughout major pig producing countries and remains vital to protecting the welfare of the newborn piglet and to the sustainability of the British pig sector."

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