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Hog giant to end gestation stalls for sows

By SUN MEDIA
February 1, 2007

The pigs still won't fly but at least they can run.

Maple Leaf Foods announced yesterday it will follow the U.S. lead and phase out the use of sow gestation stalls in favour of group housing.

The announcement comes days after the Winnipeg Humane Society issued a public plea – as reported in the Sun – to pork producers in Manitoba to free the mother pigs.

Gestation stalls confine the pigs into such small quarters the pigs often cannot turn around. The group housing system allows breeding pigs some freedom of movement.

John Youngman, director of the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, was elated at the Maple Leaf announcement.

"This is the most significant farm animal welfare advance in Canadian history," said Youngman.

PHASED OUT

Maple Leaf Foods is the largest pork producer in Canada. All its hog production operations will phase out the gestation stalls within 10 years, according to a release on the company's website.

U.S.-based Smithfield Corp. announced last week it would phase out the confinement of mother pigs in gestation stalls throughout its U.S. operation. The phase-out will affect 116,000 animals each year.

"With the largest pig producers in the United States and Canada eliminating gestation crates, the writing on the wall is clear for the North American pork industry," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International, Canada.

They are calling on all pork producers to follow the two big pork producers.