Crawley MP, Henry Smith attended a reception in Parliament to support of The Crate Escape campaign led by the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF), Humane Society International/UK and Compassion in World Farming. The campaign calls on the Government to end the use of farrowing crates.
Severe animal confinement
Farrowing crates are one of the most severe forms of confinement experienced by farmed animals in any system. Every year over 200,000 mother pigs are kept in these small cages on UK farms, where they are confined for up to five weeks at a time. Sows suffer when they are forced to spend much of their lives behind bars and a typical sow spends almost a quarter (22%) of her adult breeding life in a crate only slightly larger than she is.
New polling data shows that fewer than one in five people (19.8%) support the use of farrowing crates and only 15.5% would presently oppose a ban. The Survation poll, carried out in March 2023, also found that two thirds of those polled would support the Government providing financial support to farmers to move to free-farrowing methods.
Several indoor free-farrowing systems that permit freedom of movement for the sow, whilst protecting piglets, are commercially available and in use in a number of countries, including the UK. Systems designed and produced in Britain are being used in the UK, United States and Canada.
Commenting on the event and campaign, Henry said;
“I’m pleased to reiterate my support for #TheCrateEscape, the campaign to end the use of farrowing crates in the UK. We must act now and end the suffering of the 200,000 sows forced to spend much of their breeding lives behind bars.
“The British people have made it clear that they don’t support this practice and the Government should now introduce legislation that is more closely aligned with those views.”
MPs back end to use of farrowing crates
The Co-Founder of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Lorraine Platt, commented;
“We were delighted to see Parliamentarians, NGOs, charities and campaigners come together as one voice in Parliament to call for an end to the use of farrowing crates in the UK. The Crate Escape reception was a clear display of the strong public and political will to end the suffering 60 per cent of our national pig herd endure every year.
“We would like to thank our host Mark Francois MP, as well as our other speakers including Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation Head of Research Dr Steve McCulloch, Shadow Defra Spokesperson Baroness Hayman, and our Patron Anna Firth MP. The Crate Escape will continue to support the Government’s aim for farrowing crates to longer be necessary, and we look forward to seeing this objective become a reality.”
The Senior Director of Campaigns & Public Affairs at Humane Society International/UK, Claire Bass, commented;
“Pigs are intelligent and sensitive animals, and the torment they suffer while confined in tiny cages for weeks on end is heartbreaking. Our polling shows that the majority of Brits, over 60 per cent, had not even heard of farrowing crates despite their widespread use. That’s a worrying indication of how disconnected consumers are from the grim reality for animals suffering on factory farms. If we’re truly a nation of animal lovers then we can and must do better than this, mothers should not be kept in cages.”
The Senior Policy Manager at Compassion in World Farming, James West, commented;
“Around 200,000 sows are confined in crates in the UK each year. Stuck in pens so narrow that they can barely move, mother pigs are forced to feed their piglets through bars. The use of these cruel cages causes unimaginable suffering.
“The UK Government has promised to review the use of cages in British farming, and recent polling shows that the British public want a ban, with less than one in five people supporting the use of farrowing crates. It’s time for the Government to listen to public opinion and take the next step to facilitating The Crate Escape by finally publishing the long-awaited consultation.”