Following an appeal from PETA India to prohibit the use of gestation and farrowing crates in pig farming, the Directorate of Animal Husbandry, Government of Himachal Pradesh, has issued a circular instructing all controlling officers of the Department of Animal Husbandry to ensure prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and use of gestation and farrowing crates for pig farming in the state. The circular explains that these crates don’t allow sows to make reasonable movements, causing sores and predisposing them to disease, and concludes that using them is cruel and illegal.
Specifically, the circular states that the use of these crates is a violation of Section 11(1)(e) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which prohibits keeping any animal in a receptacle that does not offer a reasonable opportunity for movement. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s National Research Centre on Pig confirms that it is illegal to confine pigs in this way. Circulars prohibiting the use of gestation and farrowing crates or requiring the enforcement of this law have also been issued by the governments of Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan following PETA India’s action. A similar circular was previously issued by the Punjab government.
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 kept there 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.
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