Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour are set to lose customers over poor pig welfare

World Animal Protection is calling for household names such as Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour to source its pork from high-welfare farms, or to risk losing customers.
calendar icon 18 April 2018
clock icon 5 minute read

Pigs are amongst the most intensively farmed animals on the planet, suffering at every stage of their lives, says World Animal Protection. Big supermarket brands have the power to end the cruel suffering of pigs farmed for pork.

A series of international research studies reveal that the vast majority of supermarket shoppers are concerned about the treatment of ‘factory farmed pigs’, with 89% of people surveyed willing to change where they shop if a supermarket commits to improving the lives of pigs.

A sow sits like a dog in a steel farrowing crate. This abnormal behaviour is often a sign of boredom and stress. Barren environments and lack of stimulation produce boredom and generate abnormal behaviours for mother pigs in close confinement and barren environments. The mother pig’s natural instinct is to build a nest to prepare for her piglets, but she cannot do this. When her piglets arrive, she cannot always reach or see them to form a normal mother-piglet bond or teach them important behaviours. Typically, piglets are forcibly weaned too early, taken away from her at just three weeks old, when she is returned to another cage for insemination and the painful cycle starts all over again.

Jacqueline Mills, Head of Campaign, Farming – World Animal Protection – defines factory farming:

“Factory farms are industrial systems that put profit over the interests of animals, people and the planet. They treat animals as cogs in a machine. Animals are confined in cages, in barren environments, and subjected to painful mutilations. Antibiotics are used irresponsibly and routinely to prop up low welfare practices and prevent stressed animals getting sick, rather than being reserved to treat sick animals. World Animal Protection believes it is possible to humanely farm animals in indoor systems where they have room to move, are free from painful mutilations and have opportunities to socialise and express natural behaviours.”

A series of international research studies conducted for World Animal Protection found that:

  • Eight out of ten people (80%) in the US were concerned after seeing the realities of factory farming
  • Seven out of ten people (72%) internationally believe that the way factory farmed pigs are kept is ‘upsetting’, ‘wrong’ and ‘shocking’
  • In the US, 89% of shoppers think that supermarkets have a responsibility to source pork from higher welfare standards – and that responsibility is for pigs overseas as well as in the US.
  • 85% of people in China are willing to change where they shop if a supermarket committed to improving the lives of pigs
  • Eight out of ten (80%) in Brazil, Thailand and Australia are concerned about the human health impact of routine use of antibiotics in farm animals.
Mother pigs in pregnancy cages. There is natural light and ventilation, but the mother pigs are caged. This can cause abnormal behaviours, like bar biting, due to frustration and boredom. Three out of four of the world’s mother pigs spend a large majority of their lives confined in steel cages. These cages are no bigger than the average fridge, the mother pig is unable to turn around, root, explore, move comfortably, or socialise with other pigs.

World Animal Protection CEO, Steve McIvor, explains: “Low-welfare industrial farming conditions for pigs can lead to severe physical pain and psychological distress.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. We need to see an end to close confinement and barren environments, so pigs can live in social groups in comfortable environments with opportunities to express natural behaviour.

“Supermarkets hold the power to create better lives for pigs. We are encouraging customers of leading supermarkets to let them know they expect higher welfare standards for pork products, with the guarantee that pigs are raised right.”

World Animal Protection is working with producers to develop higher welfare systems, enabling pigs to be kept out of cages and in social groups. We are appealing to the public to help drive change by telling the supermarkets they shop in, to shift to higher welfare standards when sourcing pork.

Steve McIvor continues: “Higher welfare is good for animals, good for business and good for people. Good animal welfare reduces stress, injury and disease, decreasing the use of antibiotics, and providing high quality and safe pork for you and your family.”

World Animal Protection is asking the public to sign their petition and demand supermarkets make a promise to sell pork from pigs that have been raised right.

To learn more, click here

As reported by World Animal Protection

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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