The aim of Equity for Pigs is to improve the lives of farmed pigs, promoting their interests by developing partnerships that create a sustainable network that utilises by-products from breweries to enhance the welfare of farmed animals. This interdisciplinary project uses innovative and creative means to reutilise edible waste materials back into the food chain, simultaneously producing animal feed and enrichment for pigs.
Equity for Pigs builds from ‘CARNEVALE’ an art-science project exploring animal welfare questions and investigative play by pigs, led by Andrea Roe working with Cath Keay. Sculptural methods and aesthetic presentation helps draw attention to the ethical need for enrichment materials that alleviate boredom and problem behaviours among intensively farmed pigs. Abi L. Glen is examining how the traditional use of animals in advertising can inform the design of promotional materials now. Equity for Pigs aims to foster a circular economy that benefits producers, consumers and farmed animals.
In Edinburgh we have world-class research into animal welfare and genetics, and Equity for Pigs benefits from the expertise of the people Andrea met throughout her continued research on animal enrichment. Funded by Leverhulme Trust and carried out at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) farm, ‘CARNEVALE’ examined interspecies interactions and explored the concept of enjoyment in pigs. ‘CARNEVALE’ successfully highlighted ethical issues of animal sentience and intelligence by employing visual arts methodologies. Documentation of the pigs interacting with the edible sculptural objects is exhibited widely and continues to attract significant coverage: STV news, The Scottish Farmer, DAMN magazine, Design Museum, Ghent, and the Royal Highland Show.
A subsequent workshop at the Roslin Institute in May 2018 gathered veterinary scientists, animal behaviourists and creative practitioners to determine how to take ‘CARNEVALE’s outcomes to industry. For Equity for Pigs sculptural modelling, mould-making and extrusion processes will convert waste products (beer mash) into enrichment toys and will consider issues of mass production, duration of consumption and aesthetics. Barney’s Beer, a brewery based at Summerhall in Edinburgh, are supplying spent barley for our materials experiments; and the soon-to-open Holyrood Distillery are discussing marketing and branding designs incorporating happy pigs at play, to promote enjoyable, ecological and ethical ways of living. Gorgie City Farm have several breeds of pig including Iron Age and Tamworth, and have offered advice and a lovely test ground for the enrichment objects we develop.
Photo credit: Norrie Russell