| WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 6
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 6 Canadian farmers
this year will stop building barns that severely limit sow
movement and plan to revamp older structures within 10 years
after numerous restaurant chains said they would only buy pork
produced under more humane conditions.
The revised industry guidelines for handling pigs in Canada
include more than 100 animal-care rules, including the phase-out
by 2024 of stalls that continuously restrict sow movement, hog
groups and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies said on
Restaurant companies including McDonald's Corp, Tim
Hortons Inc and Wendy's Co have vowed to buy
pork only from farms and other sources that do not use the
enclosures. U.S. pork producers Smithfield Foods Inc and Hormel
Foods Corp have said they are phasing out the use of
such stalls in company-owned facilities.
Canada is the world's sixth-largest hog producer.
Sow stalls, or gestation crates, are typically about 7 feet
long and 2 feet wide. A breeding sow is housed there for much of
her adult life.
The stalls cause stress for the animals and allow them only
to take a step forward or backward, possibly lie down, stand up
and sit, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies said.
The code requires Canadian farmers to build only new barns
that have group housing for sows as of July 1, 2014, and also to
use pain relief, effective immediately, in castration of piglets
over 10 days of age.
By 2024, all other barns may not use stalls that
continuously restrict sows' movement. Details of those changes
will be worked out in the next five years, said Rick Bergmann, a
hog farmer and vice chairman of the Manitoba Pork farm group.
"It's not a ban on stalls, just a ban on systems that
restrict sow movement," Bergmann said.
Because of the changes, farmers will need training on how to
operate their barns, said Canadian Pork Council spokesman Gary
"(It's like) driving on the right side of the road your
whole life and all of a sudden being asked to start driving on
the left," Stordy said.
Sow stalls offer some advantages, allowing farmers to feed
the pigs individually and protect them from aggressive behavior,
The biggest Canadian hog farms are owned by Quebec-based
Olymel Ltd, Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods Inc and
Manitoba's Hylife Ltd.
Maple Leaf spokesman Dave Bauer said the company fully
supported the code's guidelines and had converted its first barn
to open housing last year. This year, it plans to move 3,000
more sows to open housing.
The code has broad support in the industry, Stordy said, and
failure to follow it can make it difficult for a farmer to
market his or her hogs.