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Canada pushes gestation crate phase-out deadline to 2029

Canada’s pork industry pledged to phase-out gestation crates in pig farming in 2014, with an aim to be crate-free by 2024. But stakeholders now want to extend the phase-out deadline to 2029.

11 January 2021, at 8:56am

The proposed deadline extension, which was announced in NFACC Pig code has been outlined in Forbes, has angered many animal welfare advocates and animal behaviourists.

The 2014 decision to shift away from gestation crates was evidence-based and was adopted by the NFAAC an industry group. In the 2014 executive summary of the Code of practice for the care and handling of pigs said there were “scientifically supported negative welfare aspects” of gestation crates. The summary pointed to sows being constrained in the cages and unable to express natural behaviours. This lack of movement and stimulation could cause, “restlessness, stress, lack of comfort [and] general frustration.”

The summary included a commitment to end the use of gestation crates by 2024.

However, the latest iteration of the Pig code lists multiple reasons why pig producers can no longer meet the previous deadline, saying, “the physical complexities of adapting various barn designs was severely underestimated. Moreover, the importance of the quality of the space offered to animals might have been underestimated and the quantity of space overestimated.

The report also voices concerns over the financial burden of converting sow stalls into group housing and lack of expertise in how to construct the new structures.

In light of these factors, the NFAAC hopes to give itself an additional five years to complete the phase-out of gestation crates, pending their review of public comments. However, doubts remain about whether the industry will adhere to the proposed deadline.

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Read the full analysis in Forbes.