by Lara Whybrow
Pick n Pay has started labeling certain pork products as being “sow friendly” but the NSPCA claims this is misleading. Click here to read about the NSPCA’s claims. They basically say that Pick n Pay producers still use sow crates and that Pick n Pay have their own ideas about what “sow friendly” is.
Sows are female pigs and they have absolutely miserable lives as they are mostly kept pregnant their whole lives and confined to tiny metal cages indoors.
This extract details more about the horrific conditions:
When they’re old enough to give birth, female pigs, or sows, are artificially inseminated and imprisoned for their entire pregnancies in “gestation crates,” cages that are just 2 feet wide and too small for them even to turn around or lie down comfortably. They often experience health problems, such as ulcers and pressure sores, from lack of movement—and worse. One worker describes how a mother pig with a broken pelvis was treated:https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/pigs/pork-industry/
[My supervisor] kicked her and then grabbed her by both of her ears and attempted to drag her out of the gestation crate in the breeding barn. She screamed in pain and protest .… [He was] riding her like a surfboard with one leg on her back and one on her neck. He then grabbed her by her tail, lifted her body, and forced her to walk out of her crate. As she did this, it was a horrific sight. The back half of her body was unable to move …. [My supervisor] was then trying to kick her and push her to keep her still as he shot her. She turned to the sows in crates alongside her as if asking for help. They kissed and sniffed, and then she was shot.
If you have read enough and want to keep eating meat but at least support free range pork farms (which don’t use sow crates) then visit the following link:
How did we get here – and do the authorities and farmers even care about animal welfare? An explanation of why pigs are kept in sow crates, from the American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Division:
Advantages: Individual Access to Resources—Stall housing allows each sow to be given an individually tailored diet10,11 and secure access to water. Enrichment materials, such as straw or balls, chains and ropes also may be provided, although this is not common in most installations. Accessibility—In facilities providing front and rear alleys for viewing sows, individual housing makes it easy to identify, inspect and intervene on behalf of specific sows, such as for veterinary treatment.1,10 Protection from Aggression—Stall-housed sows are unlikely to receive injuries associated with physical aggression, but agonistic interactions may still occur between adjacent animals.12 Disadvantages: Behavioral Restriction— Stall-housed sows are less active,13 and spend more time sitting and standing and less time walking than sows housed in pens.11 Sows in gestation stalls can stand-up and lie down, but are prevented from turning around and performing behaviors such as communal lying and movement to preferred micro-environments. Confinement Injuries—Stall-housed sows may have a higher incidence of injuries such as pressure sores, ulcers, and abrasions.14,15,16 Stereotypy—Sows in stalls may perform more stereotypic behaviors such as biting, chewing, licking, and rubbing than sows housed in the other systems.11,17,18,19.20https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/LiteratureReviews/Documents/WelfareImplicationsOfGestationSowHousing.pdf
All of these advantages are available with larger systems that give the sows more space. Piglet mortality is higher in organic farming, but this problem is being researched and ways have been found to reduce this.
Consumers put pressure on producers by preferring lower prices. Producers implement aggressive tactics to increase their market share, often because they needed many investors on board to get the farm running in the first place so they need to provide a certain ROI, so they slash prices as much as possible to claim and increase their market share. Family farms which have been in operation for generations find themselves competing with these companies and resorting to tactics they don’t really like – either that or go out of business.
Recalling how his family operation began moving pigs from pastures to confinements in the 1970s, Borgic said: “We started using the stalls to protect the sows. I let science and the market tell me what to do. I’ve done both. I know in my heart and my brain what is better.”https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/pork/ct-pig-farms-gestation-crates-met-20160802-story.html
His unapologetic defense of maternity crates was shared by other leading Illinois pork producers, who credit the individual stalls for bigger litters, heavier piglets and reduced workforce costs.
“Everybody looks at pigs and thinks of themselves,” said David Conrady, whose Logan County-based TriPork Inc. markets nearly 11,000 pigs per year. His animals have hearts similar to humans’ and highly evolved minds, he notes, but they are destined to make food, not serve as companions or pets.
“They’re raised for a purpose. We’ve got to feed the world first,” Conrady said.
It sounds like this agri company didn’t want to make the change, but exterior aggregates influenced their business model.
“They’re raised for a purpose”… I’ve come across too many times in my experience. Would we like it if we were treated the same? Of course not. And this sentiment is echoed in multiple sayings such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” and on and on. I have had people tell me that animals were put on Earth by God to feed us. Well, let’s say that WE were also put on Earth to feed something more powerful than us – would we want to be kept in tiny cages all day or left outside permanently with no protection from the elements such as the Karan Beef feedlots?
I don’t think anyone that own or works in a factory farm feels in their hearts that they are doing the right thing – but it makes them a living and they just won’t reduce profits to make animals lives better. Open pasture free range farms are unarguably the gold standard in farming:
Commercial outdoor farrowing systems are often comprised of individual farrowing paddocks or runs in which sows will have individual access to a farrowing site but share a portion of pasture with other sows. Outdoor systems for farrowing have been cited as the gold standard of farrowing systems as they facilitate high standards of welfare while still remaining economically efficient. Outdoor systems satisfy the biological needs of both the mother and offspring by allowing for key natural behaviours to be performed during the time prior to farrowing and throughout lactation.https://thepigsite.com/articles/alternative-farrowing-options-in-the-swine-industry
If prices are to remain the same there needs to be some sacrifice in the profit margins and consumers need to pay more if required to keep the operations profitable and sustainable. Consumers should boycott any factory farms – literally put them out of business and support companies that care.
So we would think that the main problem is the consumers. But then why is the push towards crate-free farming mostly instigated by the consumer? Because there are two types of consumers – conscious and unconscious.
Conscious consumers are uncomfortably aware of how much power they have – and disconcerted by their low numbers in relation to the unconscious consumers. Unconscious consumers don’t care (or CAN’T care…) about prices as they are in “survival” mode and need/want to prioritize the needs of themselves and their families over the needs of the animals producing their food. Even when these consumers are shown factory farming in black and white they either don’t care or can’t care. Conscious consumers are kindhearted and educated, and they understand that they vote with their buying power and that current trends are merely a reflection of this power.
We all created this mess. And it is up to us to fix it.
All of our current standards can be changed – if we choose to support those that are in accordance with the changes we wish to see. And that is why Ethical Suppliers was created, to create more conscious consumers. Please support free range meat and improve living conditions for all animals.