Following an appeal from PETA India to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and use of gestation and farrowing crates in pig farming, the Gujarat Animal Welfare Board has issued a circular instructing the secretary and deputy director of the animal husbandry department, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and district panchayats to instruct the pig farmers in their jurisdiction to ensure that no farms are using such illegal crates. The circular also asks for the prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and use of gestation and farrowing crates.
The circular cites Section 11(1)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which prohibits keeping any animal in a receptacle that doesn’t offer a reasonable opportunity for movement, such as gestation and farrowing crates. Confining animals in this way is illegal, a position confirmed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s National Research Centre on Pig. Circulars requiring the enforcement of this law or prohibiting the use of the crates have also been issued by the governments of Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi, and Rajasthan following PETA India’s appeal. A similar circular was previously issued by the Manipur and Punjab governments.
Gestation crates (aka “sow stalls”) are metal cages essentially the size of a pig, with concrete or slatted floors, that leave the animals unable to turn around or even stand up without difficulty. They’re used to confine pregnant pigs, who are typically transferred to farrowing crates to give birth and are kept in them until their piglets are taken away. Farrowing crates are fundamentally the same as gestation crates, except that they contain small side compartments for piglets.
Gestation and farrowing crates deny mother pigs everything that’s natural and important to them, such as opportunities to forage, build a nest for their young, socialise with other pigs, and regulate their body temperature (such as by wallowing in mud). The crates also force pigs to live amid their own faeces and urine. The extreme stress and frustration caused by this severe confinement results in abnormal behaviour, such as continually biting at the enclosure bars or “chewing” the air.