Photo credits: ©Dyrevernalliansen
On October 1 the German coalition announced their disappointing decision to plan to delay mandatory anesthesia for piglets during castration, just three months before the measure’s supposed enforcement. As a consequence, more than 20 million piglets castrated without anesthesia every year in Germany will have to endure the suffering for another two years.
Piglet castration is a routine measure inflicted on piglets in European pig rearing. The main reason for neutering male piglets has been the unpleasant odor and taste (so called “boar taint”) some people reported when consuming meat of uncastrated male pigs. Sex hormones produced by male pigs and boars release a substance distributed through blood into the animal’s body, including muscles. When exposed to heat, the pig meat can produce an unpleasant odor and change the taste. However, only about 5% of piglets develop board taint.
Until 2013, young piglets were exempted from the German animal protection law which stipulates mandatory usage of anesthesia in the case of painful interventions on vertebrae animals. In reality, many of the most painful mutilations on pigs happen at a very young age, due to lack of the EU Pigs Directive enforcement, such as piglet castration, tooth clipping or tail docking. After the Animal Welfare Act change in 2013, piglet castration without anesthesia was supposed to be phased out by 31.12.2018. If the coalition will implement its decision, all piglets will be subjected to this cruel practice for another two years.
“What the coalition committee has decided is betrayal of the piglets and betrayal of the state’s goal of animal welfare… Basically, the entire pig farming system violates applicable law. The suffering of the pigs must finally come to an end – the policy may no longer place the economic interests of animal users higher than the protection of animals” commented Thomas Schröder, President of the German animal welfare association Deutscher Tierschutzbund.
As a part of ‘’Stop the pig suffering” and #EndPigPain campaign carried out jointly with Eurogroup for Animals, Deutscher Tierschutzbund has been raising awareness about effective alternatives to the cruel practice of castration without anesthesia. Although animal welfare-friendly alternatives have been available for a long time and the industry has had enough time to adapt to the ban, it still tries to force castration under local anaesthesia. Deutscher Tierschutzbund stands against this practice because numerous studies have shown that injecting local anesthetics presents additional stress and pain before castration. In addition, local anesthesia is insufficient to completely eliminate castration pain, thus violating the German Animal Welfare Act.
Although Deutscher Tierschutzbund advocates for the complete castration ban due to possible side effects and wound healing disorders they acknowledge the existence of more animal welfare-friendly alternatives. One is the vaccination against boar taint where the hormone production of boars is suppressed. Even though this method has been successfully carried out in many countries the German industry responds with an incomprehensible skepticism, and has been implemented by only few farmers so far. Another alternative that could be used as a temporary solution is the effective general anesthesia combined with painkillers.
Schröder added that no piglet should go through routine tail docking and teeth clipping anymore as it has been forbidden for more than almost a decade now. It is unacceptable that attempts to prolong suffering are being made in Germany today, he concludes.