I HAVE recently become aware of a shocking example of the cruelty of factory farming: the pig farrowing crate.

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

The crate is so small that the sows cannot even turn around; it fits them so closely that it rubs against their skin. After their piglets are born, their mothers are unable either to reach them if they choose, or to escape their attentions if they need to.

For more than 30 days the sows remain in this cage, able to do nothing but stand up, lie down and eat: most face a blank wall.

Naturally, pregnant pigs are restless and active, making nests of twigs for their young to go down on.

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

Having recently experienced the pain of childbirth myself (and the urge to move around), I am haunted by the suffering inflicted by the farrowing crate.

We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, but I am afraid this doesn't extend to the animals that we eat.

The demand for cheap meat leads to factory farming and animal abuse.

For information on factory farming and vegetarianism contact Viva! on www.viva.org.uk Mrs Sue Smith Ivins Road Holtspur