A woman has been closed into a cage on top of a hospital bed outside Parliament this afternoon to draw attention to the "absurd" comparison of farrowing crates to maternity wards.

The demonstration is being organised by SAFE and follows the organisation's oral submission on a 112,844-signature petition to end the use of farrowing crates for mother pigs.

The demonstration is in response to comments made by the previous chair of New Zealand Pork, Ian Carter, who told Radio New Zealand farrowing crates, "created an environment very similar to a maternity hospital".

SAFE's head of campaigns, Marianne Macdonald, said it was a ridiculous and offensive comparison.


"Farrowing crates are used to imprison a mother pig for up to five weeks after she gives birth. She can barely stand and the effects on her physical and mental wellbeing are devastating. Considering this happens each time the sow gives birth, it's like comparing a prison to a spa resort.

"A poll earlier this year of over 1000 New Zealanders showed 73 per cent of people supported a ban on farrowing crates. This is not a contentious issue for New Zealanders - they agree that this is no way to treat a mother."

SAFE submitted the petition in March and it was the largest received by Parliament in the past five years. It has since been considered by the Primary Production Select Committee, which is now hearing oral submissions.

"At the vulnerable time she's preparing to give birth, with no straw for bedding, she can only scrape her nose over the cold bare floor in an attempt to build a nest for her piglets. This appalling treatment needs to stop," Macdonald said.

"We want the demonstration to send a clear message to Government to ban farrowing crates now."