An elementary school is facing backlash for its plans to raise pigs, let students pet them and then slaughter them as part a lesson on animal welfare.
Farsley Farfield Primary in Leeds, UK added Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs to its farm, allowing students, as young as age four, to feed the pigs and pet them, only to be slaughtered for meat within nine months.
Headteacher Peter Harris, who came up with the idea, wrote about the plan on a blog post on the school’s website.
“Through keeping the pigs, the children will learn more about the provenance of their food and issues around animal welfare,” Harris wrote.
“The pigs will not be pets and will only be with us for 9 months. The pigs will have a life twice as long as modern commercially-reared breeds and will have a truly free range life.”
“Children will go into the enclosures during farming sessions if they wish (and whilst the pigs are small). They will feed the pigs and can stroke their backs.”
Harris says this will teach the children about the source of their food, adding that it is a good opportunity to open up dialogue about reducing meat intake.
“I think that we are raising awareness of the meat industry, and some of the issues around animal welfare and sustainability.”
“I don’t think that we are desensitising the children, I suggest that our children will be more knowledgeable and sensitive to animal welfare than most of their peers.”
In 2017, the school was awarded “Healthy School of the Year,” a national award.
Farsley Farfield is now facing backlash from animal rights activists who are using social media to draw attention to this issue.
A former Farsley Farfiled student, who is vegan, using the name Ix Willow, started a Change.org petition urging the school not to slaughter the pigs.
“The school have made plans to get pigs to look after on the school grounds, which they then plan to send to a slaughterhouse; and, once the pigs have been killed, parents and local people will be able to buy pieces of their dead bodies,” the petition says.
“They are friendly animals that can live for about 12 years or so.”
“Schools have a duty of care to support children, teach them fair values and to provide a safe and happy environment for them,” the petition says.
“By teaching children that it is okay to exploit and kill animals they are in breach of this, and this could also be traumatising for children getting to know the animals and then knowing they are going to die.”
The petition has already received over 2100 signatures out of a goal of 2500.
Harris said he is aware of the petition and “respects people’s individual views.”