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Canada to phase out gestation crates

News Section Icon Published 3/7/2014

This week, Canada voted to phase out the cruel and outdated practice of keeping pregnant pigs in gestation crates. This decision will improve the lives of 1.4million sows every year.

This inhumane system, now partially banned throughout the EU, keeps mother pigs in metal crates so small they cannot turn around, or even lie down easily.

The new Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs state: ‘For all holdings newly built or rebuilt or brought into use for the first time after July 1, 2014, mated gilts [pregnant sows] and sows must be housed in groups.’ This marks a major step forward for farm animal protection in Canada.

Leah Garces, USA Director for Compassion in World Farming, says:

We wholeheartedly applaud the Canadian government, and hope this serves as a wakeup call for the United States’ pork sector. While the codes fall short of placing the ban on existing practices, it does spell the definitive end for this cruel and outdated system.

In April 2013, The Retail Council of Canada announced that all eight of the largest Canadian supermarket chains—Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Metro, Loblaw, Safeway Canada, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys and Co-op Atlantic—will move away from sow stalls in their supply systems by 2022.

Compassion in World Farming, along with farm animal protection groups from around the world, submitted comments in the summer of 2013 urging the Canadian government to ban sow stalls.

Nearly all major retailers in the United States have now put in place policies to eliminate sow stalls from their supply chain. However, it remains legal and the Pork Board and Pork Producers Council continues to defend this inhumane close confinement system.