A SUGGESTION from DEFRA that pigs would he happier if they were supplied with footballs as toys has enraged Compassion in World Farming, the British-based pressure group trying to wipe out cruelty in livestock husbandry.
Many experts believe that pigs, which despite their poor image are more intelligent than most farmed animals, remain healthier, breed better and put on weight faster if they are allowed an active lifestyle rather than kept imprisoned in cages.
But a recent suggestion by a DEFRA official that they should be given footballs to play with brought forward a torrent on scorn from CIWF chief executive Joyce D'Silva, who accused the department of "mindless incompetence."
Such ridiculous advice, she claimed, showed that DEFRA officials had "little knowledge of pigs except from what they have seen in toy shops" and added: "With this announcement, DEFRA are completely trivialising animal welfare issues."
"An EU Directive on providing pigs with 'manipulable material' is a welfare measure designed to ensure they can carry out their natural rooting behaviour instead of living on barren, concrete slatted floors.
"The intention is to provide pigs with materials like straw or mushroom compost to allow them to root."