The NPA has hit out at the protestors who staged a mass sit-in at a Lincolnshire farm, accusing them of endangering the health and welfare of the pigs.
In a strongly-worded article, NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said the association was ‘horrified’ by the events that took place and was ‘working to ensure the health and welfare of pigs is not compromised in this way again’.
“The group of 200 activists committed trespass with the aim of intimidating a farming family running a legitimate business. They had no thought for the welfare of the family or their staff, who suffered a traumatic experience. We are seeking legal advice and liaising with the police about how such incidents should be handled in future,” she said.
They activist also ‘seriously endangered the welfare of the pigs which they claim to care so much about’, she added.
‘Sows in a farrowing room are used to a quiet, calm environment with the same one to two people responsible for their care on a daily basis. They even become used to the colour of overalls worn,” Mrs Wilson said.
“100 activists piling in in white suits will have unsettled and agitated them and this is clearly visible from some of the footage as the sows are standing up and quite vocal. The presence of people also generally indicates to the sows that they’re going to be fed, therefore they were also probably expecting food.
“That combined with the fact that the activists prevented the farmer from feeding the sows at their usual time, will have caused additional distress. The farmer has since reported that a sow aborted a litter shortly afterwards which could be due to stress and/or introduction of disease.”
She added that the farmer also reported two piglet deaths due to crushing, while activists were handling piglets which were also squealing and then putting them back with the wrong litters.
Mrs Wilson also stressed the animal health risk posed by the activists, not least with the African swine fever lurking in Europe. “We have no idea whether the activists had recently been near other pigs, although we do know that this farm was not their intended target so they will have been to another farm that morning. We don’t know what they brought onto the pig unit in terms of food, or whether they may have been contaminated in some way, particularly considering we know at least one activist had flown in from another country,” she said.
“They showed astonishing levels of ignorance and, again, a flagrant disregard for the wellbeing of the animals.”
Mrs Wilson also thanked the farmers and Sylvia Hook, in particular, ‘for the calm way she handled what was clearly a terrifying situation’.
“She gave an excellent account of herself in the media, so much so that far from the farm and the pig industry being ‘exposed’, it was the activists who ended up looking foolish, self-serving and ignorant of the realities of pig farming,” he said.
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