Canada moves to eliminate sow stalls and painful farming practices for pigs

Today pigs in Canada are one step closer to freedom from sow stalls and painful farming practices.

March 6, 2014 (Ottawa, Ontario) – Today pigs in Canada are one step closer to freedom from sow stalls and painful farming practices. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) secured the move after years of negotiations among industry stakeholders. The new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs creates over 100 animal care requirements and directly addresses the inhumane practices of sow stalls and castration and tail docking without pain relief.

“This new code is a watershed moment in Canada” says Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the CFHS. “Negotiating significant advancements in animal welfare was an arduous process because the CFHS advocates for only those farming practices that provide good welfare for the animals. The elimination of sow stalls is chief amongst these.”

One of the most contentious issues in hog farming, the use of confinement housing causes extreme stress and frustration in these intelligent and social animals. Sows are kept in stalls for the majority of their lives, only able to take a step forward or back and possibly lie down, stand up or sit.

The new Code requires all new barns to provide group housing to sows as of July 1st, 2014 with a further ban on conventional stall systems that continuously restrict sow movement by 2024.

“While pleased with the direction, the CFHS is disappointed that the pig industry wasn’t willing to outright end the use of inhumane sow stalls” says Ms. Cartwright.  “Fortunately retailers and consumers are more aware than ever about animal welfare and are pushing the market hard to completely eliminate gestation stalls. Retailers such as Tim Hortons, Loblaw, McDonalds and Costco are removing sow stalls from their supply chain.”

The new Code also swiftly ends the current practice of castrating piglets or removing their tails without any pain relief. By 2016 piglets of any age must receive pain relief. Furthermore, farmers must immediately provide enrichment to enhance the pig’s physical and social environments which are often barren.

“This is the first significant update to Canadian pig welfare standards in more than two decades,” says Geoff Urton, CFHS representative at the National Farm Animal Care Council and Manager of Stakeholder Relations at the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA). “The Codes of Practice are used in provincial law enforcement when investigators are responding to complaints of cruelty and will now be mandatory in the Canadian Pork Council’s Animal Care Assessment program.”

To read the Code of Practice and for a complete breakdown of which companies are phasing out sow stalls visit www.cfhs.ca.

Fast Code Facts

  • Canada’s Codes of Practice for farm animal welfare were initiated by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and are unique in the world for its collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders.
  • The process is managed by the National Farm Animal Care Council and funded by the Government of Canada.
  • The process is managed by the National Farm Animal Care Council and funded by the Government of Canada.
  • Under the new Code for pigs, require all farmers in Canada must:
  • Not build new barns that do not provide group housing (effective July 1st, 2014);
  • Phase out stall systems that continuously restrict sow freedom of movement (effective July 1st, 2024);
  • Use pain relief when castrating piglets over 10 days of age (effective immediately);
  • Use pain relief when castrating or tail-docking piglets at any age (effective July 1st, 2016);
  • Provide all pigs with multiple forms of enrichment to enhance their physical and social environments (effective immediately);
  • Stop tethering of pigs (effective immediately).
  • More than 50 retailers in North America have made the commitments to eliminate sow stalls from their supply chains.

 

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