Pig Welfare Set to Improve in Canada05 June 2013
CANADA - After three years of intense negotiation, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) has welcomed the release of the draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs.
Confidential until 1 June, the CFHS worked tirelessly to negotiate directly with farmers for the past three years to improve the welfare for pigs in Canada. The draft Code of Practice sets standards for the care of the 27 million pigs raised on Canadian farms.
A significant step forward, this draft code reduces the reliance on the controversial practice of gestation stall use. The draft Pig Code allows for limited stall use (up to 35 days each cycle) thereby aligning itself with science and moving toward the public expectation of 100 per cent stall free pork. This new requirement, not in full effect until 2024, reflects a growing trend with companies and producers committed to phasing out the use of sow stalls such as Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Burger King and producers including Olymel and Maple Leaf.
"The animal welfare science has shown that when confined in sow stalls, pigs experience extreme stress and frustration because they are unable to turn around or express natural behaviours," said Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. "It’s like being stuck in an airline seat for your life."
Advocating for only those farming practices that provide good welfare for the animals raised, the CFHS encouraged farmers to strive to employ management practices and housing systems that meet both the physiological and psychological needs of the animals.
"The new Pig Code requires environmental enrichment, as well, outlines pain control measures for castration and tail docking which are some of the most progressive in the world beating out Australia, Germany and the UK," said Dr Carol Morgan, pig welfare specialist and the CFHS code representative.
"However, Europe is phasing out castration completely by 2018. That’s the ideal solution, but meat processors in Canada refuse to accept uncastrated males. It’s a problem with processors not producers," noted Dr Morgan.
Canada’s Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals lay out national expectations for animal welfare as arrived at by consensus between the farmers, veterinarians, scientists, government agencies, and SPCAs and humane societies who are members of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). The CFHS hopes to receive broad input from the general public, industry and other stakeholders during the 60 day comment period to ensure it improves animal welfare and reflects the values of Canadians.
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