Pig sector concerns rise as Commons' farrowing crate debate returns

A debate on ending ‘the cage age’ is now due to take place in the House of Commons on 16 March
A debate on ending ‘the cage age’ is now due to take place in the House of Commons on 16 March

Pig producers are voicing concerns to their MPs over a possible farrowing crate ban as a parliamentary debate on the issue is set to commence next week.

A debate on ending ‘the cage age’, which was postponed in the autumn, is now due to take place in the House of Commons on 16 March.

The government has expressed its desire to phase out the use of farrowing crates on pig farms despite farmer opposition.

Former Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers and Defra Minister Zac Goldsmith both confirmed in January that they want to see farrowing crates phased out.



But pig producers say the primary purpose of the farrowing crate is to prevent the sow from rolling on and crushing her piglets.

The crate also enables stockpersons to work easily and safely around the sow and her piglets, during a time when sows can be particularly aggressive.



The National Pig Association (NPA) is now asking farmers to contact their MPs to explain why banning farrowing crates would be a mistake.

“A prominent part of the campaign is calling for Defra to ban the use of farrowing crates and we need as many MPs as possible to challenge that request,” NPA senior policy adviser, Ed Barker said.

“We need as many members to rally to this as possible, and outline the shortcomings of this approach, or a future ban could be a real possibility, especially with the current Defra ministerial team in place.

“Since last September a number of new MPs have moved into post, and this is a great opportunity to inform them of farrowing crates’ purpose.”

The debate, which follows a petition circulated by Green NGOs that gained more than 100,000 signatures, was postponed in September due to the prorogation of parliament.