Following an appeal from PETA India to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and use of gestation and farrowing crates in pig farming, the Commissionerate of Animal Husbandry, Government of Maharashtra, has issued a circular instructing deputy commissioners, animal husbandry cum member secretaries, and all district societies for prevention of cruelty to animals, mandating compliance with PETA India’s request.
The circular cites Section 11(1)(e) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which prohibits the confinement of any animal to a receptacle that fails to 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, which is further reiterated in the said circular. Maharashtra is the latest of 19 states and union territories to join the ranks of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal to address the use of restrictive crates in pig rearing.
Gestation crates (aka “sow stalls”) are metal cages, essentially the size of a pig, with concrete or slatted floors. In them, animals are unable to turn around or even stand up without difficulty. These devices 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.