In 1995 Babe graced our screens and stole our hearts. So much so that when the movie was released the sale of pig meat products dropped by 25 per cent in the United States. The human star of that film, James Cromwell, who played Farmer Hoggett, chose to go vegan during the film. He said:
I cared about their welfare and then, of course, you have lunch and it's all there in front of you, and I thought, I should go the whole hog, so to speak.
Of course, many pigs like Babe are being farmed in the New South Wales animal agribusiness industry. Many of those pigs are in sow stalls, which are small metal cages in which sows can barely take a step forward or backward, let alone turn around. Sows live—if it can be called living—in that tiny, squalid space after being forcibly mated or artificially inseminated. Sows cannot move, so their muscles and bones deteriorate, which causes intense physical pain. A week before a sow is due to give birth, she will be moved to another shed, filled with hundreds of other sows, where she will be imprisoned in a farrowing crate. She is held there for up to six weeks, unable to carry out her natural nesting behaviours.
Harrowing footage and photographs taken from sow stall sheds and farrowing crates in New South Wales show pigs biting at the bars of sow stalls, frothing at the mouth and suffering from horrific injuries, including swollen limbs, lameness and open wounds. I have seen footage over the years that showed sows lying dead, imprisoned in farrowing crates, rotten skin decaying over skulls as starving piglets lay beside their mothers. Dead sows can be seen across one piggery, some with their eyes eaten out by rats. Outside, open sacks are filled with yellow and pink dead piglets. This Christmas we must remember that severe animal cruelty is part of the unpalatable reality of piggeries. That is just a small insight into what goes on behind closed doors in the animal agribusiness industry. I urge the House to consider the horrors that those sows endure and to remember that compassion should spread to both human and non-human animals, because it takes nothing away from a human to be kind to animals.