Farrowing Crates: Welfare Expert Calls for More Consumer Outreach

US - The Colorado Pork Producers Association late last month decided to voluntarily phase-out sow gestation crates over the next decade. The group joins Smithfield Foods, the nation's largest pork producer, in taking such a step.
calendar icon 3 January 2008
clock icon 3 minute read
Banning sow gestation crates has become a rallying cry for animal rights extremists, who successfully mounted ballot initiative campaigns against the practice in Florida in 2002, and more recently, in Arizona in 2006.

And Dr. Temple Grandin, associate professor of animal science with Colorado State University and an animal welfare expert who has worked with the livestock industry for decades, told Brownfield ending the use of sow gestation crates in pork production is the right thing to do. According to Grandin, the public just doesn’t like sow gestation crates and that’s reason enough to stop using them.

"I think we have to say to ourselves, if you took your Christmas guests or your Thanksgiving guests or your Hanukkah guests, or whatever kind of guests you got from out-of-town, and you showed them what you did," Grandin posited, "Are you going to be squirming, or are you going to proud of it?"

Sow gestation crates, Grandin said, don't pass that test. She noted that an informal survey she has conducted on consumer attitudes about sow gestation crates found nearly two-thirds oppose them, with one-third very strongly opposed. On the other hand, Grandin said it's generally not difficult to defend sow farrowing crates, because consumers understand the need to protect piglets from other swine. But Grandin also insisted the livestock industry needs to do much more to improve its overall public image.

"Public opinion does matter," Grandin said. "I think there's some things we can educate the public. I think we've done a really poor job in communicating with the public," she added. "I think we need to be putting up video tapes up on the Internet showing exactly how a farm works."

Source: Brownfield

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