Learning to grin and boar it
THESE are tough times for the pig-fixers of Norway. In 2002 the parliament passed a law requiring vets to anaesthetise pigs before castrating them. Now Norway’s lawmakers have gone a step further and banned porcine castration outright. From 2009 onwards the he-pigs of the fjords will be free to wallow without fearing for their boarhood, which must be kept safely entire or intact, as the delicate industry jargon has it.
That sounds like a straightforward gesture of compassion for animals akin to mandating bigger pens or more humane conditions for the transport of livestock, as the European Union has done in recent years.But in this instance, the trade-off is not merely one of extra costs for farmers versus extra comforts for their charges. For one thing, some researchers argue that allowing male pigs to achieve full masculinity when there is no outlet for their swinish urges might be more cruel than giving them the snip. They point out that full-blooded (and full bodied) males can be very aggressive, and often fight or mount one another when kept in confined spaces....MORE
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