LETTER: What a load of bull in animal welfare debate

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Having read Justin Kerswell’s column on March 8th on animal welfare and the British farmer, I have never heard such a load of bull and untruths in all my life. Has he ever been on a farm in his life?

First the horse meat scandal: the meat from horses has been eaten by humans for years. Totally safe and in most cases, better than beef from old, worn out dairy cows and breeding stock that have simply grown old. To get quality beef, you must buy from reputable butchers, where you can get a quality joint, they only use the meat from quality carcasses.

Now pigs: farmers do not cut off the back teeth of any piglet. All they do is snip the points off the sharp fangs at the front of the pig’s jaw. This stops them damaging the sow’s teats, and other young piglets’ mouths when they fight for the most milk.

The farmers in some cases do cut off the end of the piglets’ tail, which doesn’t have any nerves in it so the baby piglet does not suffer pain. The reason for this is that in some litters there will be a rogue piglet that decides to tail-bite. Cutting off the end of the piglets’ tail then exposes the sensitive part of the tail so they don’t allow other piglets the opportunity to start tail-biting and cause serious damage.

Now farrowing crates: these are used to protect the young piglets, when only very young, from the large sow rolling over and causing an early death. Farrowing crates have to be a certain size, which allows them to stand up and also feed without stress.

Now lambs: most males are castrated at birth with a special rubber band, which also causes minimum amount of stress. Most lambs have their tails docked. This eliminates the risk of maggoting definitely causes pain and stress. With scores of maggots gnawing at sensitive, raw flesh. This docking is done at birth with a special rubber band causing little or no pain.

Now chickens and ducks: free-range eggs sounds good, free-range ducks sound good, but they are unmanageable in the quantities required to feed the ever-growing worldwide population. So they have to be kept intensively reared or factory-farmed. On such a scale is not cruel: all are kept in warm and dry conditions with a quality and balanced diet that ensures maximum production of quality eggs and meat. The only one to gain from all the free-range poultry would be Reynard the fox and what price would eggs, chickens or ducks then be?

Referring to the cruelty at our slaughterhouses, there are strict standards set by the government on the welfare of our animals at slaughter. Animals are not terrorised before being stunned, they are kept as stress-free as possible and suffer no pain. It is all over in seconds so keep on buying British farm products from a well-managed British countryside.

P. Wolfenden