Farmscape for February 14, 2007 (Episode 2400)
The Canadian Pork Council fears recently announced plans to phase out gestation stalls could actually hinder the welfare of swine rather than help it.
Last month Smithfield Foods announced plans to replace sow gestation stalls with pens or group housing systems in its contract producer barns over the next 10 years and Maple Leaf Foods quickly followed announcing that, while there is no conclusive evidence that one system leads to better herd health than the other, it endorses the U.S. industry decision and will phase out gestation stalls over the same period.
Florian Possberg, the first vice president of the Canadian Pork Council and the CEO of Big Sky farms, believes the move may actually compromise animal welfare.
Clip-Florian Possberg-Canadian Pork Council
When I started producing hogs in 1975 all my sows were in group housed pens and we went to stalls because we really believed it was superior for the animals in terms of properly feeding the animals to meet their needs and to prevent aggression between animals and so on.
We believed and still do that gestation stalls have a lot of value in terms of animal welfare.
The general public just doesn't accept that so there's some realities there.
For the whole industry though to move towards abandoning gestation stalls, it creates issues.
Do we have alternative housing that is going to improve the welfare of our animals or are we going to end up seeing some compromises to the housing of our animals and the animal welfare reality?
Those are pretty big questions.
At the end of the day though we need to be concerned about the welfare of our animals and to be sure that we don't compromise that.
Possberg believes, if the change is made, it really needs to be to further the welfare of animals and not for political reasons.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council