What are sow stalls?
- Sometimes called gestation crates, sow stalls are metal-barred cages used to house sows (pregnant pigs).
- They are tiny—just 2 feet wide by 7 feet long.
- They are cruel—a sow cannot turn around or extend her limbs.
- The floors are bare, hard concrete.
- Deprived of all exercise, a sow often develops weak bones and painful leg ailments.
- Due to the constraints of the stall, all the sow can do is nervously chew the bars of her cage in mindless repetition.
- A sow is kept continuously pregnant and locked in this pig prison for almost all of her adult life—without exercise.
- The sows do not see the light of day, feel the earth beneath their feet or experience the opportunity to make a nest in straw.
Why are they used?
- The answer is simple: economics. Stalls are a way of cramming many sows into a small space, saving on building costs.
- Less food is needed to maintain an animal who barely moves.
Are there alternatives?
Yes! Farmers can implement a humane system called a “group housing system” that uses straw-based or slatted-floor units.
- Sows are able to move freely and socialize with other animals.
- Natural activities like rooting and nesting can occur.
- Waste is spread amongst a broader area, preventing disease and environmental concerns.
- Sow performance can improve in areas such as longevity, joint health, lameness and litter sizes.
- Systems may be more economically and environmentally friendly as straw can be used as insulation and animals are able to use behavioral thermoregulation to stay warm.
Who is banning sow stalls?
- The European Union has implemented a phase out of all sow stalls by 2013. Some countries such as Great Britain, Sweden and Denmark have already banned sow stalls all together.
- Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, California and Maine have all implemented phase outs.
- Smithfield Foods, Maple Leaf and Cargill will have eliminated the use of gestations stalls by 2016.
- Safeway, Burger King, and McDonalds have all announced to buy more pork from non-gestation stall farms.
Help us help them!
- Pigs are not factory machines.
- Pigs are smart. They understand what is going on around them.
- Pigs are sensitive. They have feelings not unlike dogs and cats.
- Pigs are curious. If they could, they would root around and graze for more than half their day.
- Pigs are social animals. They like to live in groups, governed by social order.
Animals raised for food deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The Winnipeg Humane Society wants to encourage the humane treatment of all animals.
By implementing these three easy steps into your life, you will give sows the chance to live the healthier more natural lives they deserve.
- Be aware:
Find out where you food is coming from and make the right choices. Tell your grocer or butcher that you want pork that comes from a humane facility. Consider purchasing meat from local farmers who raise their animals according to humane standards (see our complete list) or order your meat from small family farms.
- Spread the word:
Not everyone knows about the horrible lives factory-farm animals endure. Let your friends and family know where their food is coming from and help them make the right choices.
- Make sure your voice is heard:
Tell Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture that you support legislation banning sow stalls by mailing, emailing, calling or faxing your concerns: