Con Agra to Eliminate Sow Stalls Just Not Yet

B. McPherson
Got Pork? Love bacon? 

Con Agra, one of the large food supply corporations is asking its pork suppliers to construct plans that would eliminate sow stalls, otherwise known as gestation crates by 2017. Five years from now there may be a plan to eliminate these cruel devices. Then the elimination of the stalls may take another 10 years.

For those of you who eat pork, you should know what you are putting into your mouths and that of your children. In Europe sow crates are still used, but are slated to be eliminated by 2013. N. American pork producers have industrialized their operations in the past couple of decades. They have become efficient meat producers. Consumers have seen the price of pork, bacon, ribs, hams steadily decrease as efficiencies have been implemented.

In order to become efficient meat factories, the animals become cogs in the production line. Sow stalls are just one aspect of the inhumane practise of factory raised pork. The female pig(sow) is impregnated and confined to a cage that is her length but too narrow to allow her to turn around. The floor of the cage is usually slatted concrete to allow urine and feces to drop through. She spends her pregnancy standing or lying in her own excrement until she is ready to give birth.

Then she is moved to a farrowing crate which is still confining but has a side area for the piglets to move about in. She can nurse but not nuzzle. Also if the piglets bite her teats she cannot get away from them. To eliminate that and to prevent the little piggies from biting each others’ tails, the tails are snipped off and the teeth filed down, without the benefit of anesthetic. But that’s another story.

After a two week interval from giving birth, the sow is impregnated again. Usually by three years she is shipped off to the slaughter house.

Not all pork producers raise pigs this way. Pigs are intelligent animals that need to be outdoors and have room to root and socialize with each other(the sows, not the boars).  As one of the producers at the Calgary Farmers’ Market said – These pigs have one bad day.

Notice the blood on the concrete where the pregnant sow bites her bars.
I’ll leave you with a thought about cheap pork. Remember the swine flu pandemic? It caused sickness, deaths and billions of dollars in expenses. Today a person who has contacted a H1N1 variant has been reported hospitalized in Ontario. That’s not the same virus from pigs that has sickened over 300 people in the US this summer. The ‘Spanish flu’ that killed millions in 1918 was a swine flu. When you factor in the costs of deaths, sickness and money spent on hospitalizations, cheap pork becomes prohibitively expensive.

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