‘Cruel’ pig pens to phase out

2011-02-10 00:00

THE South African Pork Producers Organisation says sow stalls will be slowly phased out in favour of a more “pig- friendly” farming method over the next nine to 10 years.

The announcement comes as the animal activist group Compassion in World Farming claimed victory after Simon Streicher, CEO of the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo) allegedly sent an e-mail to Beeld newspaper saying its members are phasing out sow stalls.

Wikipedia describes the sow stalls as intensive piggeries, a type of factory farm specialising in raising domestic pigs up to slaughter weight.

The pigs are housed indoors in group-housing or straw-lined sheds, while pregnant sows are housed in sow stalls (gestation crates) or pens and give birth in furrowing crates.

The temperature is raised, which allows the pig to spend less energy on keeping its body heat at the right temperature, which causes the animal to fatten up faster.

The use of sow stalls for pregnant sows has resulted in lower birth production costs.

In a statement, the chairperson of the South African branch of Compassion in World Farming, Tozie Zokufa said the animal rights victory comes after supporters bombarded Sappo and other pork industry organisations with e-mails, calling on them to do away with this farming method.

Zokufa described sow stalls as a cruel method that has been phased out in many pork-producing countries.

“The sows are immobilised in these cages, preventing them from moving forwards, backwards or sideways — for life. They go to slaughter never having seen a blade of grass or a patch of soil.”

Peter Evans, a veterinary liaison officer at Sappo, said this type of pig farming will change over the next nine to 10 years.

“The way we house pregnant sows will change over the next few years. They will still be kept inside, but the methods will change to become more pig-friendly.”

He said that while Sappo is aware of the activist group’s concerns, the situation would not change overnight.

“There are cost implications and there are things such as environmental impact assessment that need to be conducted, so we have to give the farmers adequate time to make all the required changes.”

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