Farmers claim land sale threatens prized pigs

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 07:16 05/03/2014

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A pig-farming father and son claim they face slaughtering their 160 pure-bred pigs when they are forced from their farm at the end of the month.

Jeff and Richard Cooley came to Midhirst in 2010 to help pig farmer Eugene O'Sullivan run his arm. Two years later, they claim, they agreed to lease the farm off Mr O'Sullivan and believed they had the right to operate there until 2021.

However, they say the farm is now for sale and they have been given until the end of the month to get their 160 pure-bred breeding sows and 18 pedigree boars off the property.

"But there is nowhere to go. We've looked everywhere. No one can take them and you can't just set up a pig farm. The bottom line is the pigs are going to get killed because of human ignorance," Jeff Cooley said.

"And because they are pregnant, it is a animal welfare issue," his son Richard said.

The Cooleys claim it would also spell the end of the country's largest suppliers of berkshire, duroc, large white and landrace pigs bred with boar semen imported from the United States.

"They look at this as a nucleus herd because we have the American frozen semen. We are the biggest registered pedigree breeders in New Zealand. People will have nowhere to go to get new boars," Mr Cooley said.

The pair said they would be left with nothing if they were forced to slaughter their animals because, while they were could earn about $200,000 off them each year as breeding stock, they are worth just $20,000 if slaughtered.

Mr O'Sullivan, who lives in front of the piggery, said he would have to think about whether he would talk with Fairfax Media but that "every story has two sides".

He said he had told the Cooleys he intended selling the farm last year and ideally any buyer would keep them on as tenants.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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