Pigs in New Zealand

How many pigs do you see when you take a road trip through the countryside. Not many, right? Where are they? Most pigs in New Zealand are kept indoors in large sheds, in what are often referred to as ‘factory farms’. The pigs are kept in cramped barren pens with no bedding or stimulation, conditions which can lead to tail biting and other aggressive behaviours. Farmers ‘solve’ this problem by cutting off the piglets’ tails, all with no painkillers.

Farrowing crates

When a mother pig (sow) gives birth to her piglets she will be placed in a farrowing crate. These are small, barred metal pens, slightly bigger than the pig’s body. The space is so small that the sow cannot even turn around. There is space on each side of the crate for her piglets, but she cannot build a nest to nurture them. A sow will stay in a farrowing crate for four weeks after her piglets are born. The sow will be impregnated over and over again until she is considered ‘spent.’ She will be killed at around four years of age. The natural lifespan for a pig is 15 to 20 years.

Did you know?

Mother pigs only have enough room to lie down or stand, nothing more. These restricted conditions lead to boredom and distress in such sensitive animals.

Pigs from far, far away

If you thought factory-farmed pig products were bad in New Zealand, consider this: many of the pig products available at your supermarket were produced overseas, where animal welfare standards are not as high as here. New Zealand banned the sow crate in 2015, however many other countries are still using this cruel system. Sow crates are very similar to farrowing crates but are used for the whole of a sow’s pregnancy.

Did you know?

Piglets on a factory farm are raised in fattening pens and will be killed at a fraction of their natural lives, at just 16 weeks of age.

Quick facts

  • 800,000 pigs are raised and killed in New Zealand each year
  • Over 40,000 breeding sows are living in factory farms in New Zealand right now
  • Breeding sows are made to have 2.4 litters per year on average and can carry up to 15 piglets per litter
  • Wild sows average 3-5 piglets per litter
  • Breeding sows are kept in a farrowing crate for about five weeks after giving birth
  • Piglets are usually killed at 16 weeks of age
  • Breeding sows are killed at around four years of age
  • Around 60% of pork products consumed in New Zealand are imported from overseas

“I believe that this country is better than the way we treat pigs. I want to grow up in a truly free country, where pigs are treated like beings and not like resources. I want to see a better future.”

Holly – Animal Squad member

How you can help pigs

Keep pork off your fork! When you stop buying and eating pig products you stop supporting the cruel practices of factory farming both in New Zealand and in the rest of the world! We have heaps of yummy recipe ideas to inspire you.

find a recipe


Education is a big part of ending factory farming. Share what you have learnt by making an animal rights book cover showing how much you love pigs.

make an animal rights book cover


Letter writing can be an extremely powerful way to inspire change. You can get your voice heard by writing a letter to the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Prime Minister or to the editor of your local newspaper explaining why you think farrowing crates should be banned.

write a letter