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Understanding Pig Farming      

HSI

understanding pig Farming

  • In Australia over 95% of Australia' s pork products are produced by more than 1,500 factory farms.
  • Only around 5% of the pork produced in Australia comes from free range pasture raised pigs.
  • Approximately 5 million pigs are slaughtered each year in Australia for human consumption.
  • Most of Australian' s 350,000 breeding sows, or mother pigs, are raised intensively in factory farms.
  • Pork is not grown in sow stalls (gestation crates), rather it comes from much younger, smaller animals, but most pork is from pigs born to mothers who live a life of confinement.
  • Intensively reared sows are kept inside sheds or in sow stalls, and then moved into farrowing crates to give birth.
  • Intensively reared piglets have their teeth clipped, their tails cut off, and males are castrated, all with no pain relief.
  • Products labelled 'Bred Free Range' or 'Outdoor Bred' are not free range - it means that the sows live and give birth outside, however the piglets (which become the pork products) are housed indoors and are not free range.
  • To avoid supporting these intensive farming systems, make sure that the pork products you buy are free range.
  • Click here to see how Humane Choice True Free Range Pigs are raised.

 

What are Sow Stalls?

  • Sow stalls are highly restrictive small steel cages with concrete floors where she is unable to move freely.  Her only options are to stand up or lie down.
  • In Australia, sows are allowed to be kept permanently in sow stalls until 2017.  After this date the time a sow spends in a stall will be limited to 6 weeks before each pregnancy.  She will still be confined in a farrowing crate for a further 6 weeks to give birth, (twice a year).
  • Breeding sows are kept in sow stalls for part, or sometimes all of their 16 week pregnancy.  Some are enclosed in sow stalls for most of their adult lives.
  • Sows are repeatedly impregnated before being slaughtered at around 2 years old when her productivity falls.
  • Intensive producers argue that sow stalls increase economic efficiency compared to other systems, putting profit before animal welfare for the production of cheaper meat.
  • Coles have been promoting their Sow Stall Free campaign, but this only applies to their own-brand pork products.
  • Sow stalls were banned in Britain in 1999, and in Florida USA in 2002.
  • Sow stalls are illegal in Sweden. 
  • New Zealand plan to ban sow stalls from 2015.
  • Other countries have implemented a partial ban (Switzerland, The Netherlands and Finland). 
  • However, the use of farrowing crates is still allowed.
  • In Australia, the Pork Industry has promised to phase out the use of sow stalls by 2017, however, new legislation allows the practice to continue indefinitely.

 

What are Farrowing Crates?

  • ˜Farrowing' means giving birth - sows are moved into these crates to give birth to their piglets where they are kept confined until their young are weaned, at around 3 to 4 weeks of age.
  • Farrowing crates are even more restrictive than sow stalls and industry believe they help prevent the mother from lying on her piglets.
  • New legislation allows the sow to be kept in these crates for up to 6 weeks of each lactation.
  • Sows produce an average of 2.2 litters each year, subjecting them to confinement in a farrowing crate for around 13 weeks each year.
  • Currently nearly 70% of Australian sows spend between 1-4 weeks of each pregnancy confined, while 20% are confined for more than 6 weeks.


Special Investigation: Confessions of a Pig Farmer (Australian Women's Weekly, July 2013) Download PDF  (4,825.6 kB)

Click here to visit our Latest News page on Farm Animal Welfare.

Click here to visit our Farm Animal Welfare Home Page.

 


Photo: A sow with her piglets in a farrowing crate





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