I WOULD like to bring to more people’s attention a shocking example of what I believe to be animal cruelty in the form of the pig farrowing crate.

The farrowing crate is a metal cage in which sows are confined a week before giving birth and remain incarcerated until their piglets are three or four weeks old.

The crate is so small the sows cannot turn around. It fits them so closely it often rubs against their skin.

After their piglets are born, mothers are unable to either reach them if they wish, or escape their attention.

For more than 30 days the sow remains in this cage, able to do nothing but stand up, lie down and eat. Most face a blank wall.

Naturally, mother pigs are restless and active, making nests from twigs for their young.

I believe the farrowing crate imprisons them as though it’s a crime to be a mother.

A month after the piglets are born, they are abruptly removed – months before weaning would take place naturally. Their mother is normally reimpregnated just days later.

Animals should never be kept in cages just inches larger than their bodies, even for relatively short times.

The total frustration of any creature’s mothering instincts can never be right.

Sadly, this treatment is frequent in factory farming, where profit is more important than the welfare of animals.

Pigs are intelligent and sensitive animals. I hope people who were unaware of the farrowing crate will stop buying meat which is inhumanely produced.

People can also write to their supermarket asking how pigs used in their meat are raised. Or better still, stop eating meat at all.

For information on factory farming and vegetarianism, visit www.viva.org.uk.

J Elford, address supplied