New Brunswick

Pig scramble game 'outrageous,' says animal rights advocate

New Brunswick animal rights advocates want the controversial pig scramble event at the annual Westmorland County Agricultural Fair banned for good.

Petition launched to end annual event at Westmorland County Agricultural Fair

The annual Westmorland County Agriculture Fair pig scramble has children chasing piglets in a pen and trying to pin them to the ground. Organizers say the game is one of the fair's most popular events. (CBC)

Some New Brunswick animal rights advocates have started a petition, calling for the end of an annual pig scramble in Petitcodiac.

The event is part of the Westmorland County Agricultural Fair each August. Organizers say the game is a decades-old farm tradition and light-hearted fun for local children, but Kelly Sherrard contends it's outdated and cruel.

"People around the world are getting tired of abuse," said Sherrard, who lives in Moncton and is among those pushing to have the event banned. She has contacted the provincial Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries for a meeting, she said.

We're not doing anything wrong.- Phillip Macleod, fair president

During the pig scramble, children enter a pen where they chase, try to pin down and capture a piglet. The children who catch one get to take the animal home to raise.

"It's hard for animals to be out exerting themselves in the heat. It's bad enough. But to have them do it for human enjoyment is outrageous," said Sherrard.

But fair organizers have refused to give in to the ongoing controversy and cancel the event.

"We're not doing anything wrong," said president Phillip Macleod.

Phillip Macleod, president of the Westmorland County Agricultural Fair, says the piglets aren't being abused and he has no plans to end the pig scramble tradition. (CBC)
"The pigs aren't getting hurt, the kids have fun — usually it's the kids who get hurt. Most of them are farm kids, they take the pigs home, that's their meat for the winter."

Macleod says the game always attracts big crowds. He says it's so popular with the children that every year several dozens sign up, but he only has 25 piglets this year, so that's how many children will get picked to play.

"If I had any inclination the pigs were being abused, I wouldn't support it," said Macleod. "When you don't know anything about it, don't criticize what other people are doing. They're sticking their nose where they don't belong," he said.

Sherrard maintains the practice is "passé."

​"There's no need of having a pig scramble that was done years ago as a way for people to be able to have a pig for their meals, if they couldn't afford meat," said Sherrard.

"There's no reason for that in this day and age."

Sherrard says she will invite Macleod if she schedules a meeting with the agriculture minister.