Comedian Mike King says he would never have fronted an advertising campaign promoting pork had he known how the pigs are treated in crate farming.
King told TVNZ's Sunday programme that since he broke into a crate pig farm with animal activists he's ashamed to have taken part in promoting pork provided by that type of farming.
He says pigs were caged in so tightly together they were unable to move and were screaming and frothing at the mouth.
King says the pigs looked "despairing, terrified and lost". He says you could hear them, and smell them from "from a mile way."
King was still under contract with the Pork Board when he was made aware of the situation. He says he felt relived after they terminated his contract. "They did me one huge favour," he says.
He says he felt "guilty as hell," after seeing the living conditions, and didn't expect this to happen in "clean, green New Zealand."
The farm was filmed by animal rights group Open Rescue and footage shown to Agriculture Minister David Carter, who said he wasn't aware of the extent to which pigs were confined.
It was a bit disturbing to see them in such conditions but he said he needed to know if the footage showed what was typical of the pork industry and he suspected it was not.
Animal rights group Save Animals from Exploitation's director Hans Kriek says such cage farming was widespread.
The pigs were touching the sides of the 60cm wide and 2m long cages and couldn't turn around.
Some pigs could live for up to five years in a cage, he said.
About 45% of New Zealand's sows, or 22,000, were kept in crates and the law was giving legal protection to farmers to be cruel to animals, Kriek says.
Kriek says pigs are highly intelligent animals, sometimes even outperforming chimpanzees in some research.
The pork industry board says intensive farming using crates is
the only way it can be competitive.
However, the Pork Industry Board said intensive farming was the only way it could remain competitive and changing from crates and stalls would cost millions of dollars.
They were the best way to prevent indoor pigs them from injuring each other.
The board said less than half the country's pigs, about 20,000, were kept in such ways and by 2015 the proposal was they would spend half their time out of the crates.
The Animal Welfare Code for pigs is due for review this
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