In Canada, almost 22 Million pigs were slaughtered in 2021. Canada also exported over 6.5 Million pigs to other countries for slaughter. Manitoba is the largest pig producing province in Canada, responsible for about 30% of all production. Canada is the 3rd largest exporter of live pigs. Manitoba is the largest exporter and is the 2nd largest pork exporting province after Quebec.
On factory farms, female pigs (sows) are artificially inseminated at 5-7 months of age. They will have about 12 to 13 piglets per litter and 2-3 litters per year. The sows nurse their piglets, who are weaned at about 3 weeks of age. The piglets are then moved to a nursery and when they are 6-8 weeks old, they are moved to a finishing barn where they are fattened up and sent to slaughter by 5-6 months old.
On Canadian farms, piglets are subjected to many painful and stressful procedures.
- Male piglets are castrated when they are only 3 weeks old or younger, to improve meat quality and reduce aggression between males. Pain control is required by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Codes of Practice, but these codes are only recommendations and are not enforced or legally binding.
- Piglets have their tails docked (partial amputation of the tail) to prevent tail biting. Tail biting is triggered by lack of space and enrichment, and can result in severe wounds, infections and death. Pain control is required by NFACC Codes of Practice, but again are not legally enforced.
- Piglets can have their teeth trimmed or clipped, to prevent them from injuring each other out of boredom or frustration due to lack of space and enrichment. Teeth clipping is not as common on Canadian farms now, but when done, there is no requirement for pain control. If it is done improperly, it can lead to discomfort and infection.
- Piglets have their ear notched for identification purposes. It is painful and there is no requirement for pain control.
- In 2014, Canada’s pork industry vowed to end their use of gestation crates by 2024. Now, industry stakeholders are proposing a five-year extension that will push the phaseout to 2029. According to animal welfare experts, the new timeline would mean massive suffering for millions of pigs.
- A gestation crate is a metal enclosure that measures 2′ X 7′. Not much bigger than the size of a pig itself, pigs are unable to turn around.
- Sows are often locked in these crates for the entire four months of their pregnancy. But because it’s common practice to repeatedly impregnate sows until they are slaughtered, at about 4 years of age, many spend the majority of their lives in these crates.
- According to the (NFACC) 2019 Pig Code Review, almost 900,000 sows (70%), spend most of their lives in these crates.
- The constant confinement causes sows to develop pressure sores, weakened bones and muscles, and urinary tract infections from lying in their own feces. Gestation crates also deprive sows of the ability to express natural behaviours, leading to stress, frustration, and development of abnormal behaviours.
- Pork is red meat and much of it is processed for ham, sausages, bacon, hot dogs, salami and other sandwich meats. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, consuming red meat and processed meat, increase your risk of cancer.