Animal cruelty in pig fattening: eat and be eaten

In one farm, animals starved and died of thirst, injured ones were eaten by their peers. The fully automated system was not monitored enough.

The pink piglets should fare better in the future. Picture: ap

The animal rights organization Animal Rights Watch has accused a pig farmer in the district of Cloppenburg of massive animal cruelty. Dead animals remained in the fattening pens for days, injured animals remained untreated and could be eaten alive by other pigs, the organization said Thursday.

The case shows that veterinary offices are not able to control even conspicuous fatteners, said spokeswoman Sandra Franz. "This means concretely incredible suffering for the pigs". Lower Saxony’s Minister of Agriculture Christian Meyer (Greens) spoke of untenable conditions and "very cruel images".

The minister emphasized that he was assuming that this was an isolated case. He demanded more and also unannounced controls. It must be a matter of improving pig husbandry and giving the animals more space, for example. The district Cloppenburg wants to switch the public prosecutor’s office Oldenburg on. In addition, the district wants to ban the farm from keeping animals, Meyer confirmed. "Anyone who treats his animals like this should not be allowed to keep pigs."

According to the animal protection organization, the conditions in the fattening facility suggest that the operator hardly cares about his animals. In addition it comes that in the plant everything runs fully automatically. Often for days nobody sees after the animals. Water troughs are clogged and dirty, and the animals are constantly thirsty.

According to the organization, the pig farmer had already attracted the attention of the veterinary authorities three years ago: At that time, the feeding system in a fattening hall had failed, most of the animals had starved to death, and the rest survived only because they ate their fellow animals. A spokesman for the ministry confirmed that the operator had been conspicuous for some time and had already been given a suspended sentence. As a result, he said, his operation had been inspected more frequently, but there had been no conspicuous incidents in the past year.

"It is indeed an extreme case, but only in terms of the sheer scale of the suffering," said Erasmus Muller, the organization’s agricultural consultant. As long as animals are treated as commodities and means of production, animal cruelty is "the order of the day," he said. "We’re kidding ourselves if we think the problem can be brought under control across the board by regular inspections by authorities."

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