Farmers argue that the castration of piglets a few days after birth is necessary to prevent “boar taint”, the occasional occurrence of a foul smell when cooking pork from male pigs past puberty.

The German parliament outlawed castration without pain relief in 2013 but it offered farmers a five-year transition period to help them adapt to the change — a timeline that was extended last year until 2021.

Outraged by the inaction, the PETA campaign group filed a lawsuit with Germany’s Constitutional Court in November on behalf of the baby pigs.

The group wants judges to recognise that pigs have rights similar to human rights and that these are being violated by the “cruel act” of castration without pain relief.