N.B. woman wants all pig scramble events cancelled across Maritimes

Published on March 20, 2017

Ferwood livestock farmer Ranald MacFarlane hams it up with some of his pigs in the selfie he took on Monday. MacFarlane supports a New Brunswick woman’s efforts to have all pig scrambles cancelled at fairs in the Maritimes.

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A New Brunswick woman is scrambling to rearrange how one of eastern P.E.I.’s oldest fairs operates.

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Melodie Robb has launched an online petition at change.org to have to have the pig scramble cancelled at the Dundas Plowing Match and Agricultural Fair.

The event has been cancelled at other pig scrambles in the Maritimes following complaints from animal acrtivitists and Dundas and the provincial government are now talking about its future.

“Why? Because’s it’s mean to the poor little guys. Why would you do that?’’ Robb told The Guardian by phone on Monday. “Would you be asking why if it were a cat or a dog? Why would you teach your kid to chase an animal and harm it.

“People say they’re not harming (the pigs but) they are terrifying the little guys to death.’’

RELATED: Controversial pig scramble cut from Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition

A pig scramble involves putting children under the age of 10 in a pen with pigs. The children try and corral the pigs. At some fairs that means chasing and grabbing the pigs but the organizers of the Dundas Plowing Match said their scramble involves no hands-on contact. The kids use plastic bags to try to guide the pigs.

Gordon Jackson, co-president of the Dundas Plowing Match, could not be reached for this story but told CBC that there is no hands on or pushing or kicking of the pigs. He added that it’s a popular event and has never heard any complaints.

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The Westmoreland County Fair in Petitcodiac, N.B., cancelled its pig scramble due to complaints from animal activists and the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Truro also canned its event.

Fernwood livestock farmer Ranald MacFarlane supports Robb’s efforts 100 per cent.

“As a child I was at a pig scramble, too, myself. Back in the day it was fun; it was entertainment,’’ MacFarlane said. “Things have changed in agriculture now. Dairy farmers, hog farmers, cattle farmers . . . we all have a professional code of conduct and this pig scramble will not fit within how you should treat animals humanely.’’

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is in talks with Jackson over the matter.

“The department did have contact with event organizers and offered to work with them in the lead up to the festival this summer,’’ said a departmental spokeswoman. “The department was told by the event organizer that he would take the discussion to his board.’’

MacFarlane said he has kids to his farm on Open Farm Day but allows the pigs and kids to mingle in a much larger area so if the pigs want to opt out of the fun they can.

Robb said she had almost 3,000 signatures.