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Pig farmers ignore EU animal protection laws

The Local · 13 Feb 2013, 07:21

Published: 13 Feb 2013 07:21 GMT+01:00

Der Spiegel magazine recently met a group of activists secretly breaking into Germany's pig farms in the dead of night to document wide-spread flouting of laws designed to improve conditions for pigs kept in large-scale livestock compounds.

The magazine uncovered shocking scenes, including a dead piglet left lying on a walkway and a sow covered in wounds from the bars of a narrow cage in which she could not lie down.

New European Union rules, which have been in the pipeline for eleven years, finally came into force on January 1st this year after a six year grace period.

Among other things, the rules stipulate that pregnant sows can no longer be kept in a narrow barred cage for the entire three month duration of their pregnancy, but must be transferred to a larger group pen after five weeks, before returning to an individual cage to give birth.

Individual cages must now by law be big enough for animals to lie down on their sides with their legs stretched out and must be fitted with toys to prevent the animals biting each others tails out of boredom.

Both these rules are consistently broken, activists told the magazine's reporter, who personally accompanied them on a night expedition to a pig farm in Vechta, near Bremen in north western Germany.

There, activists filmed sows kept alone and covered in wounds from forcing their legs through bars of cages which were too small for them and which contained nothing to occupy the animals.

They photographed dead piglets lying on the walkway floors or stacked up in wheelbarrows ready to be carted off, wrote the magazine.

In their fight to raise awareness, the activists regularly pass on the photos and video footage they collect to the Animal Rights Watch (Ariwa) organisation where it is published on their website.

The European Union could now take Germany to court for breaking the rules, said Der Spiegel.

Even the ZDS central association of German pig producers admits that an estimated one third Germany's 15,000 pig farms have not implemented the changes - despite the six year grace period.

Story continues below…

One reason for farms failing to comply with the rules is a lack of money, the German Agricultural Ministry told the magazine.

German pig farmers are under growing pressure to keep production costs as low as possible, it said, as the European pork industry tries to sell its excess products on the world market.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

10:56 February 13, 2013 by Englishted
No disrespect ,but I have found that Germans ignore most laws unless somebody enforces them.

e.g. how many hard hats do you see on a building site? or parking on disabled parking places on supermarket car parks.
11:12 February 13, 2013 by steve_glienicke
Correct Englishted, there are many EU laws they flaunt here, and use same old excuss of things being mis-understood in translation!

Labour Law forcing companies to give a work break if you work longer than 6 hours, most companies insist you use your own personal time for the 30 minute break, but if you do that, it is not exactly a work break is it, but you giving yourself a break, a clear and direct violation of the labour law, but done to get more work hours out of people, thats just one example i have come across here.
11:51 February 13, 2013 by raandy
Easy and not too expensive to pass a law, but costly for enforcement.The Germans enforce more strongly laws that bear fruit , like tax , customs laws and motor vehicle.The no smoking in pubs seems to be rarely if ever enforced, along with animal protection,and labor for example.
13:39 February 13, 2013 by ichbines
You are fooling yourself if you think the supplier of McDonalds and Co. comply with animal protection standards. Maybe some do but the root of the problem is meat demand. Eat less meat and these things will slowly disappear. People think they must eat tons of meat, but it is simply not true. You are bombarded with minerals on a plant based whole foods diet. You can get enough protein and b12 on just a few servings of meat per week. Try it. Your weight will go down and you will feel better.
00:31 February 14, 2013 by Brint
About 15 years ago Channel 4 in the UK did a undercover documentary exposing the cruelty inflicted in some British pig farms, considering that research has shown that pigs can be more intelligent than dogs I found the program so sickening that I haven't touched any pork products since and whilst not eliminating red meat entirely from my diet, I have managed to drastically reduce my consumption over recent years in favour of more fruit and vegetables and now mainly rely on fish and poultry.
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