Leuven is a town in Belgium. It could well be the home town of the new President of the EU Council, whom Mr Iain Dale, and others have christened Mr Rumpy Pumpy. It is reported in the current edition of Farming News from NFU Cymru that earlier this month, in the town of Leuven, animal rights campaigners released 20,000 pink balls at the HQ of the Belgian Farmer's Union. This 'direct action' was a protest at the practice of unaesthetised castration of male piglets. The union is reported to have responded by highlighting its support for research into alternatives to castration, and pointed out that consumers do like meat from uncastrated animals. This response seems to miss the point, which is about the absence of anaesthetic rather than the absence of testicles.
This report brought back to me one of the most barbaric practices I've ever been involved in. It was when I was quite young. We bred and reared pigs as part of the farm business. When the male piglets reached a certain age their testicles became sufficiently prominent to enable removal. Warning - the next sentence may make your eyes water. My job was to catch the piglets and dangle them in the air, holding them up by their hind legs. My father then cut open the sack, gripped the contents, and sliced off the little pink testicles with a razor blade. No anaesthetic. I remember our sheepdog (unoriginality named Pup) eating them voraciously. In fact Pup usually caught them after they had been tossed up in the air. I can do the same thing with peanuts and quail's eggs. Pup lived to be very old. Not sure what lessons are to be learned from this fact. Piglets can be very noisy at the best of times, but they were exceptionally so as this was procedure was taking place. I don't know how widespread this barbaric practice is today, but something like it is taking place in Belgium at least. Could this be why farmers are thought to be uncomfortable about having vasectomies?