Standing on a ramshackle wooden platform about 3 meters above the ground,
farmer Huang Demin edged forward, forcing one pig after another to "dive"
into the river below.
Most do not like the experience, he concedes,
yet he believes it boosts the animals' appetite, so they grow faster.
Images of Huang's making his livestock airborne in Central China's Hunan
province were widely circulated on the Web this week, prompting equal
measures of curiosity and criticism.
"What this farmer is doing is
against the pigs' nature," said Gu Xianhong, professor at the Institute of
Animal Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Making
the pigs dive, he said, "merely makes the animals anxious and therefore
violates their welfare".
To the relief of animal-rights campaigners,
authorities aim to curb such activities.
The General Principles of
Animal Welfare Assessment, noncompulsory guidelines largely targeted at the
treatment of livestock, are expected to come into effect this year.