Should pig gestation crates be banned? | The Tylt

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Should pig gestation crates be banned?
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Hog farms are under pressure to stop the use of gestation crates—stalls breeding pigs stay in for most of their lives as they give birth to litter after litter. Activists say this practice is essentially torture and is even worse when you factor in how intelligent and social pigs are. Farmers say gestation crates are not cruel and the best available method to raise pigs. There's simply no other way to satisfy the demand for pork without industrial farming. What do you think? 🐽

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Farmers say gestation crates are not as bad as people make it out to be. First, farmers argue each system should be evaluated on its own merits—there's a lot more that goes into raising pigs for food than people realize. Switching to an open pen system to raise and breed pigs does not make all of the problems associated with factory farming go away, it just changes the set of problems. Instead of being confined, pigs will compete against each other for food and space.

"The science has not supported change," Johnson said. "If sows are placed in group pens, you're going to see mortality go up and efficiency go down. A lot of these producers may shut their doors."
Placed together in communal settings, sows can fight for food and establish pecking orders in which the weakest eat less, if at all. In the individual crates, feed can be precisely calibrated to the pig's stage in her life cycle, and workers can easily track the well-being of individual animals, the research studies show.

Farmers must balance animal welfare with the cost of raising animals and the price consumers are willing to pay. Consumers don't want to pay the premium price to allow farmers to raise livestock in the absolute best conditions. There's always going to be a trade off. In this case, gestation crates are the best solution for raising and breeding pigs, even if it's not the most appealing solution.  

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Critics say it's obvious how horrible conditions are for pigs in gestation crates. These highly intelligent and social animals are kept in a cage where they're unable to do much besides move their heads up and down for their entire lives. That's just wrong. 

Retailers are realizing this and are pledging to no longer purchase pork products from farms that use gestation crates. Some of the largest pork producers, like Smithfield Foods and Cargill, are shifting their farms from crates to other alternatives. There's no real reason why animals have to be kept in crates their entire lives. Studies show in the long term, stress levels between pigs in pens and pigs in crates are relatively close. The science is not settled like the pork industry makes it out to be. 

In public announcements that are reshaping the U.S. pork industry, giant food retailers from McDonald's to Kmart and Safeway have vowed in coming years to stop buying pork from producers that hold breeding sows in crates.
Top U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods in 2007 announced its transition to "crate-free" pig breeding by 2022; the switch, involving 800,000 sows per year, will cost an estimated $360 million, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Leading pork producer Cargill has said it will by next year convert its own breeding facilities and eliminate contract growers that use crates.
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FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should pig gestation crates be banned?
A festive crown for the winner
#FreeThePigs
#TrustTheFarmers