RSPCA urges government to step in to avert pig culling crisis

The RSPCA has urged the Government to take immediate action to solve the farming crisis and stop emergency culling of healthy pigs, calling the cull bigger than an ‘on farm problem’ for the industry to solve.

Emma Slawinski, director of advocacy and policy for the RSPCA, said hundreds of thousands of farm animals may suffer catastrophically if farmers are forced to cull on farm due to slaughterhouse and butchery worker shortages and transport difficulties, meaning that none of this meat will be able to enter the food chain, which she deemed ‘incredibly wasteful and disrespectful.’

“I’ve heard people say, what does it matter where they are killed? They are going to die anyway. But on-farm culls will be traumatic for many animals and people alike,” said Ms Slawinski.

“Slaughterhouses are specifically designed to kill animals. Shooting thousands of healthy pigs on a farm will be extremely difficult, even for a skilled expert. Pigs are intelligent animals, they are big and strong animals, weighing as much as an adult man, and getting a clean shot will be difficult, even for a skilled expert. Farmers will do their best but it will be incredibly distressing for the pigs being separated at slaughter.”

The RSPCA is calling for the Government to immediately safeguard the welfare of animals and support British farmers, as the proposed culling healthy animals on-farm other than for disease control purposes is reported to be unprecedented in the UK.

Alongside the immediate welfare risks, the association raised concerns that the cull might result in retailers looking to import pork to meet demand, with imported products at risk of being produced to lower welfare standards than the UK’s, compounding the welfare impact.

Ms Slawinski compared the proposed cull to the mass culling of animals for foot and mouth 20 years ago which took an enormous toll on the farming community, with many producers still scarred by the experience and caused many to simply stop farming.

She pointed out that in this case farms would be culling healthy animals, not diseased ones: “Farmers want to do the right thing and get their animals to slaughterhouses where they can be slaughtered more humanely. If the Government wants to be a world leader for animal welfare – it needs to take action now to avert this welfare catastrophe.”

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