HSI calls for urgent changes to stop confined pigs being needlessly baked to death
Following the horrifying news that 500 pigs perished when the air-cooling system failed and staff could not be reached, Humane Society International (HSI) calls for urgent action to be taken to prevent such an atrocity from being repeated. When staff at the Pig Improvement Company (PIC) in Grong Grong, NSW, turned up to work after the weekend on Monday 23rd February, they found around 500 pigs lying lifeless having been subjected to extreme heat stress. Despite the 24-hour monitored alarms alerting the Brisbane-based security company, they failed to notify on-call employees.
Media reports state that PIC Australia is now reviewing the integrity of its warning system and has vowed to make changes if necessary. PIC Australia claim on their website that they are part of the world’s largest and most extensive pig breeding and technology company, their primary objective being to maximise their customers’ profitability. On 14th March the Daily Mail Australia reported that the company has come under fire in the past due to their shed conditions. The report also claimed that PIC’s CEO Paul O’Leary said that further investigation into the disaster appeared to show that the shed did not have an adequate ventilation system.
“Given that they are part of the world’s largest and most extensive pig breeding and technology company, surely PIC Australia can afford the extra staffing to monitor their intensive piggeries 24 hours a day, avoiding the despicable suffering that 500 breeding sows endured last month. These poor creatures were confined with no-where to go, and would have experienced a long and painful end,” Verna Simpson, Director, Humane Society International Australia said.
HSI is calling for an amendment to the Animal Welfare Code of Practice for Commercial Pig Production to specify that all intensive establishments that have 200 or more confined animals must have at least one staff member on site 24 hours a day. The Code currently specifies that for pig housing which is electronically ventilated, in the event of a power failure or malfunction the producer must ensure there is an alternative power source, or the shed must be opened up to allow natural ventilation. These guidelines appear to have been violated at Paul O’Leary’s piggery, and this failure has claimed the lives of hundreds of sentient beings. “If simple measures had been taken then this terrible incident could have been completely avoided. HSI has written to the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, to strongly urge him to amend the Code to prevent a repeat of this welfare disaster in the future,” Ms Simpson concluded.