SACRAMENTO, CA - A San Francisco-area animal rights groups is suing the California State Fair over metal cages used to hold pregnant pigs.
The complaint centers around farrowing crates, metal stalls that contain the pregnant and nursing pigs.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Alameda County, the Animal Legal Defense Fund alleges the crates deprive the pigs of exercise and keeps them from nest-building.
In a statement, the state fair said the crates are nothing more than standard practice in the hog industry.
A spokesman for the Animal Legal Defense Fund argued that violates state law.
"Pork producers all over California are in standard violation of California law, which simply requires that people give all animals adequate area for exercise," said Carter Dillard, legal counsel for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
The group recommends open nests to allow the animals to move around and build a nest, a change that's already been made at the Alameda County Fair.
But the state fair veterinarian said the enclosed space is actually a safety measure: it protects the piglets by keeping the mother still.
"The moms are large, the piglets are small and they sleep a lot so it's not their fault, they're sleeping and mom moves and she's very large and they get crushed," said Spring Holland, DVM.
A state fair spokesperson said the safety and health of all animals is a top priority at the fair and the animals are monitored 24 hours a day by a veterinarian from UC Davis.