Monday, June 23, 2014

New York declines ban on sow stalls

New York State legislators have declined to write and pass legislation banning sow gestation crates.

The National Pork Producers Council and the New York Pork Producers on Monday praised the politicians for allowing hog farmers to choose how to house their sows.

But the writing is on the wall as many retailers have announced they want their pork to come only from farms that do not use sow gestation stalls; most have given producers and packers a few years to meet their standards which were pushed on them by the Humane Society of United States.

Canada is moving to evolve out of sow stalls as part of its recently-adopted animal care protocol.

Major pork producers including Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods, Cargill and in Canada Olymel are shifting away from using gestation stalls under pressure from the Humane Society of the United States and public opinion about their use.

The pens are approved, however, by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. 

Installing new housing systems is expensive and requires different management approaches to ensure sows don't bully each other into injuries or starvation.

The NPPC has stood firmly behind this animal husbandry practice, saying the stalls allow for personalized animal care and eliminate pregnancy aggression from other sows.  

“New York hog farmers are pleased the legislature realized there are far more critical issues to consider than attacking small family farms in rural New York,” said Ed Keller, president of the New York Pork Producers, in a news release issued by the NPPC. 

“Sure, the animal-rights groups had some early successes, but now that legislators are hearing both sides of the issue, they are choosing to allow the farmers to care for their animals the best way they can,” Keller said.