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Pigs are intelligent, social animals – like their wild relatives, pigs love to explore and “root” around.

What’s the problem with gestation crates?

Pigs raised for food are normally kept inside on concrete floors and in confining pens causing extreme stress and frustration. Sows (female pigs) are kept in the most confining pens (called “gestation stalls” and “farrowing crates”) for the majority of their lives. They can lie down, stand up or sit, and may be able to walk a few steps forward and back. However, they typically do not have enough room to turn around or to engage in natural behaviours that are important to them.

sows in stall

Gestation stalls are a popular choice as they allow for increased control over individual feed intake and can prevent aggression between sows. Farrowing crates are used to restrict the movement of the sow after she has given birth to her litter, in order to protect newborn piglets from being crushed when a sow lies down unexpectedly.

In these systems, sows are deprived of the ability to express important natural behaviours that they are highly motivated to perform such as roaming, rooting, digging, building nests and interacting with other animals.

What’s the CFHS doing about it?

As a founding member of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), the CFHS is demanding that the industry improve conditions on Canadian farms. Through our leadership role on the Council, we’ve already improved the lives of millions of dairy cows in Canada, but we need your help to improve the lives of even more animals.

The direct result of the CFHS’s tireless efforts for the last three years on the development of the new Code for pigs is that we secured more than 100 clear requirements that all farmers in Canada must adhere to including:

  • A ban on construction of new barns that do not provide group housing (effective July 1st, 2014);
  • A ban on conventional stall systems that continuously restrict sow freedom of movement (effective July 1st, 2024);
  • The mandatory use of anesthetic and analgesic when castrating piglets over 10 days of age (effective immediately);
  • The mandatory use of analgesics when castrating or tail-docking piglets at any age (effective July 1st, 2016);
  • Requirements for all pigs to have multiple forms of enrichment to enhance their physical and social environments (effective immediately);
  • A ban on tethering of pigs (effective immediately).

What can you do to help pigs?

  1. Educate your friends and family about the industry accepted conditions pigs are raised in.
  2. Demand that the Canadian Pork Council follows through on its commitment to incorporate the requirements outlined in the Code into their on-farm Animal Care Assessment program.
  3. Refuse to purchase inhumanely raised pork products. Ask for humanely raised pork products at your local grocery store and choosing an alternative until humanely raised pork products are available.
  4. Take the Pledge to support the humane treatment of pigs.
  5. Support the CFHS at the Codes of Practice negotiating table by DONATING to our farm animal program.

Learn more

READ the entire Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs.

WATCH CFHS CEO Barbara Cartwright in “Food for thought”: Undercover investigation reveals disturbing and inhumane treatment of factory farm animals produced by CTV W5.

WATCH to see how the vast majority of sows in Canada are housed (from Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals)

Read these detailed factsheets from the BC SPCA:
Pig Production Factsheet
Pig Welfare Factsheet

We thank our member society, the BC SPCA for allowing us to include this information and their factsheets on our website.

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