Keep Blantyre Farms' cruel, intensive pig farming out of Harden
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Edwina and Michael Beveridge (Blantyre Farms) currently own and operate Golden Grove Piggery and Dead Horse Gully (DHG) Piggery in Young NSW, where an estimated 25,000 pigs, including 2,200 sows, are kept in cruel intensive confinement. Edwina's extended family, the Walker & Rowntree families (Windridge Farms), own other large intensive factory farm piggeries in the region including Wonga Piggery and Templemore Piggery.
Wonga piggery (Young NSW) was the site of a large fire in June 2015 which resulted in the horrific death of approximately 2,500 pigs trapped in sheds and unable to escape.
On 18 December 2015, public notice confirmed that a Development Application (DA) had been lodged with Harden NSW council by Blantyre Farms. This DA is for a proposed large scale intensive factory farm (Piggery) situated on Eulie Road in Harden. The proposed multi-million dollar piggery includes 22,000 pigs - breeding and growing, two sites, approx 1 km apart, and 21 sheds incorporating a methane digestive system.
This DA, if approved (post construction), involves 850-900 pigs being transported weekly (250 pigs per semi trailer), from Harden NSW to the Diamond Valley Pork slaughterhouse in Laverton, Melbourne, where they will be lowered into a carbon dioxide gas chamber. Inside this chamber they will face excruciating pain as the gas suffocates them and turns to carbonic acid in their eyes, nose, mouth and lungs, until they lose consciousness (view footage).
Footage obtained from inside Golden Grove and DHG Piggeries in 2013 (see above) clearly demonstrates the cruelty and mistreatment considered standard practice by Blantyre:
- In the farrowing crates at Golden Grove, sows showed signs of distress, exhibiting stereotypies (abnormal repetitive behaviours) such as bar biting, rubbing repetitively on bars and protruding edges, prolonged pressing and pushing, head bowing, weaving, stepping back and forward and 'sham' chewing. Many have great difficulty standing up or lying down due to weakness, the tiny size of their cages, and the slippery metal floor. Some pigs had less than two inches of space in front or behind them, and all were unable to take more than one or two steps forwards or backwards, and were unable to turn around. They are kept here for upwards of six weeks at a time, as is the industry standard.
- A large number of dead and dying piglets were found at Golden Grove each night activists visited. Many of these were simply left in the aisles, often in full view of their mothers who could see through the bars beneath their feeding trough. A number of piglets were killed or severely injured by "overlay", where the sows lie on top of their piglets, crushing them. The industry claims farrowing crates prevent overlay. Yet the footage from Blantyre Farms completely undermines such a claim. The footage shows that where sows have difficulty standing or lying and cannot move away from their young, and where piglets have little room of their own, overlay is inevitable.
- Workers cut off the tails and teeth of piglets, and cut sections out of their ears, all without pain relief. Tails are discarded in the aisles and sometimes even end up in the food trolley. Tail cutting is performed by the majority of piggeries in Australia as an attempt to prevent cannibalism (tail biting) once the pigs are moved into overcrowded "grower" sheds which completely lack stimulation. Despite the tail cutting, Blantyre's grower facility, Dead Horse Gully (DHG), has a severe cannibalism problem.
- When moving piglets between farrowing crates ("fostering") or taking them from their mothers to be moved across the road to DHG Piggery, workers pick them up by one leg and throw them into trolleys, the piglets often landing head-first or crashing into others already in the trolley.
- Once impregnated, sows are moved into the large group housing shed, which features row upon row of open-backed sow stalls, where the sows can move out into a small corridor between the stalls, but must return to the stalls for food and water or to avoid being attacked by other sows, as is common due to the overcrowded, unstimulating conditions. The air in this shed is filthy, and for the sixteen weeks of their pregnancy the sows remain trapped here without sunlight, on concrete floor where they must live amongst each others' urine and faeces (in natural conditions, pigs will urinate and defecate far away from where they sleep and eat).
Upon finding hidden cameras in the farrowing shed, Edwina Beveridge set a trap for activists; upon their return, eight men were sent out to "hunt" them in a pursuit that lasted over 4 hours. The activists' car had been destroyed, with one window smashed in, all tyres deflated with the valves cut off, and extensive damage to the engine. Personal belongings inside the car had been rifled through, and in an interview with The Land Edwina admitted to viewing identification contained within the locked car. However, police refused to press charges, citing a "lack of evidence".
Edwina then took to harassing board members of multiple animal rights groups with frivolous legal threats.
In addition to the cruelty that can be expected at the new piggery if development proceeds, there are also serious environmental concerns, as with all intensive farming (piggeries in particular). A loss of visitors to Harden can also be expected, as the region further reinforces its negative reputation as an intensive factory farming hub, after the recent construction of a 27-shed duck farm.
To the Administrator, Hilltops Council, we ask that you do the right thing by your community and by the hundreds of thousands more pigs who face a life of suffering and misery at the hands of Edwina and Michael Beveridge over the next decade - please say no to the construction of this piggery.
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