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Pork plants roasted
Slammed for caging mother pigs

Saturday, January 27, 2007
by Rochelle Squires, Legislature Reporter
Winnipeg Sun

Caging mother pigs is unnecessary, and inhumane and pork producers in Manitoba should outlaw the practice, say animal-friendly advocates.

Vicki Burns, executive director of the Winnipeg Humane Society, said mother pigs should not be forced to live in gestation crates and is calling on the Manitoba pork industry to phase out confinement of pigs.

"There are hundreds of thousands of pigs that are suffering because of the confinement," said Burns. "For their entire adult life they are kept in a space so small that they cannot turn around. That does cause chronic suffering."

Burns said there are alternatives to housing mother pigs in confinement gestation stalls.

"It's absolutely possible for it to happen in Manitoba," said Burns, adding some Manitoba farms already are using group housing for their pigs.

She is calling on large pork producers, including Maple Leaf Pork, to change its corporate policy and phase out the use of confinement stalls.

To be phased out

U.S.-based Smithfield Corp. announced Thursday it would phase out the confinement of mother pigs in gestation stalls throughout its U.S. operation.

Burns wants Manitoba pork operations to follow suit.

"Manitoba's industry would be crazy not to follow it," said Burns.

John Youngman, spokesman for Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA), said his organization has asked Maple Leaf Pork to change its practice of caging mother pigs to no avail.

He said the company refused to comply with the CCFA request in a letter dated Sept. 5, 2006.

He said Maple Leaf Pork is putting profit ahead of animal welfare.

"It's about profitability at the expense of animal welfare," said Youngman.

"But consumers are becoming less tolerant of practices that don't support the humane treatment of animals."

Maple Leaf Pork, the largest pork producer in Canada, did not return calls from the Sun yesterday.

The province is not looking at changing legislation to outlaw the practice of caging mother pigs.