US pork sector warns about consequences of sow stall removal
Responding to the news that fast-food giant Burger King has joined McDonald’s, Hormel Foods and Smithfield Foods by announcing a pledge to voluntarily phase out sow stalls, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said that it believed the fast-food giant had been “bullied” into the decision by animal welfare organisation Humane Society of United States (HSUS).
“The Humane Society of United States has no concern for the hog farmers who care for their pigs every day, for families struggling to purchase food or for the hog farms that likely will go out of business – costing rural America thousands of jobs – because of its campaign against America’s farmers and ranchers,” it said.The organisation warned that banning sow stalls would significantly increase production costs, leading to higher prices and forcing many hog producers out of business.
It added that it believed the action would have “no demonstrable health benefits to sows” and pointed out that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), which recognise gestation stalls and group housing systems as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.
The National Pork Board also maintained the position that sow stalls play an important role in protecting the health and welfare of individual sows, and said that all systems have advantages and disadvantages for animal welfare.“I have raised pigs indoors and out, in pens, and in stalls during my 40-plus years growing pigs,” said Everett Forkner, NPB president.
“How I have raised pigs has changed as our industry has found new ways to improve the health and welfare of our animals. Decisions on how to care for our animals are made by farmers and veterinarians working together to provide the best care for each animal on our farms.”