Caged pigs ‘tormented’ on EU farms producing Parma and Bayonne ham

The investigation by campaign group Compassion in World Farming found that sows on European farms are subjected to “cruelty”

<p>The investigation found sows are spending nearly half their adult lives in cages.  </p>

The investigation found sows are spending nearly half their adult lives in cages.

Sows across Europe are spending nearly half their adult lives tormented and frustrated in cages often lying in their own excrement, an investigation has found.

The investigation by campaign group Compassion in World Farming found that sows on European farms - including those supplying ‘premium’ Parma and Bayonne hams - are subjected to “cruelty”.

The investigation looked at 16 farms in Italy, Spain, France and Poland and found that sows were spending nearly half their adult lives in cages that prevent practically all movement apart from standing up or lying down.

Video footage obtained by the group appears to show how sows are unable to properly nurture their young because of the restrictions of the cage.

Video footage obtained by the group appears to show the sows are unable to properly nurture their young because of the restrictions of the cage. The group said the sows resort to abnormal behaviours, such as bar biting and chewing the air because of their frustration.

The British animal welfare and environmental NGO said it was sending a summary of the investigation to agriculture ministers across Europe. Last year, the European Commission committed to introducing legislation to prohibit cages for a number of farm animals - including sows.

The commitment was made in response to the European Citizens Initiative ‘End the Cage Age’ - spearheaded by Compassion in World Farming and other NGOs - which gathered 1.4 million signatures from supporters across the EU to ban the use of cages for EU farmed animals.

Compassion in World Farming estimates that there are 11 million sows used in the EU every year, and that approximately 85 per cent of them are caged. It said the UK government also needed to introduce new laws to end the use of cages for all animals farmed here.

“People who pay a premium for products like Parma and Bayonne hams are likely to be shocked to discover that these ‘high-end’ products are from systems that keep animals in such cruel cages,” said Sarah Moyes, Compassion in World Farming’s Senior Campaigns Manager.

“They are forced to live unimaginably miserable lives.”

“Our investigation reveals that their farms are no better than standard farms – the animals still spend a significant part of their lives in cages.”

She added: “They are forced to live unimaginably miserable lives.”

The Independent has attempted to contact representatives of Parma and Bayonne ham.

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