Irate animal welfare campaigners have hit out at a primary school – after “cruel” plans to slaughter its pet pigs then sell the meat to teach pupils about the food chain emerged.
The friendly farmyard animals have been reared and doted upon by adoring students as young as four this academic year.
However, the pigs’ cushy lives will come to an end over summer when they’re killed and processed into a yet unknown pork product, according to an online petition.
Critics have taken to social media to protest the plan, with one person describing it as “cruel” and “traumatising” and another saying it’s a “disgusting” idea.
The scheme is the brainchild of Peter Harris, head teacher at Farsley Farfield Primary in Leeds, West Yorks, who said his pupils will be “more knowledgeable and sensitive to animal welfare” as a result of the plan.
Other social media users have jumped to his defence, with one person saying “it’s a great idea” and another adding “it’s an important lesson to learn”.
The online petition, which has almost 2,000 signatures, was set up by an outraged former Farsley Farfield Primary student called Ix WIllow.
Writing online, she said: “My main concerns are with the well being of these pigs… and the message that we will be teaching the children at Farsley Farfield that it is okay to exploit and kill animals with the only justification being that people enjoy eating their bodies.
“Pigs are as intelligent as dogs and at least as smart as a three-year-old human child.
“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.
“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 Gloucester Old Spot breed pigs at Farsley Farfield Primary are part of a mini farm on the school’s grounds, which also contains vegetable patches and hens.
The school was named ‘healthy school of the year’ at a national ceremony called the Times Educational Supplement’s schools awards in 2017.
In a blog post on the school’s website Mr Harris said: “Through keeping the pigs the children will learn more about the provenance of their food and issues around animal welfare.
“I think that we are raising awareness of the meat industry, and some of the issues around animal welfare and sustainability.
“The pigs will live twice as long as commercial pigs and appear to be enjoying their outdoor life with plenty of opportunity to root around.
“Their welfare standards are much higher than most pigs.
“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.”
Mr Harris described the school farm as a “tremendous long-term success” that gives pupils a “better understanding” of where their food comes from.
He added: “A key element of this project is to discuss the need to reduce meat consumption.”
Farsley Farfield Primary has one ‘meat free’ day a week and there are boards at the farm explaining why meat consumption must be reduced.
Mr Harris said he was aware of the petition and that he “respects people’s individual views”.
One supportive parent said: “Despite some individual’s views on social media I think having the pigs on the farm is a brilliant idea.
“All of my children have been brought up knowing where our food comes from and it does not stop them eating any of it.”
Another said: “All of my children have attended this great school.
“I fully support the teaching of the pig’s life cycle, children should be made aware of where their food comes from.”