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Thanks to a flurry of undercover exposés, documentaries and news coverage over the past two decades, consumers are more aware than ever of how badly animals are abused in industrial animal agriculture.

Few factory farming practices are worse than the extreme confinement of mother pigs. Studies show that pigs are more intelligent than dogs, yet the life of a pig on a factory farm is one of deprivation and frustration.

Almost all the pork sold in Ireland comes from supply chains in which mother pigs are locked in metal gestation crates. These cages are barely larger than a pig’s body, preventing her from turning around, taking more than a step forward or backward, or expressing other natural behaviours.

The goal of eliminating extreme confinement of farmed animals has never been more urgent. Scientists and the United Nations have recognised the overcrowding of animals in industrial animal agriculture as a leading potential cause of future pandemics. Covid-19 is believed to have started in animals before spilling over to people. Cage facilities, in which stressed and often sick animals are packed tightly together, provide the ideal breeding ground for diseases to multiply and mutate.

Animal exploitation and abuse is wrong, regardless of whether the victim is a dog or a pig, a cat or a calf. The vast majority of people want to live in a kind and compassionate world. It is time for the Irish Government to take a lead and begin the process of phasing out all factory farms in Ireland, beginning with the removal of sow stalls and farrowing crates.

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