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TexasMadness Profile
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News: McDonald's calls for phasing out pig gestation crates


About 30% of the US pigs are housed in gestation crates - small stalls that house pregnant pigs in which they are unable to turn around or lie completely on their sides. I've read many places that pigs are the worst treated in our factory farm settings. But perhaps this will change.

McDonald's - the largest restaurant chain, and probably one of the bigger customers of the pork industry - asked its suppliers yesterday to phase out the gestation crates. There are no set rules (what to change to) and no set deadlines, but I can't see this as being a bad thing.

It's one thing for little ol' me to spend my money on free range meat at the farmers market. Yes, I'm voting with my dollars, but my $100-$200 a month doesn't buy much influence. But for McDonald's to demand slightly-more-humanely-treated meat? Wowzers. They did it before with the size of battery cages for hens. It's all little tiny incremental steps but maybe one day people could buy meat from anywhere and know that the animals were at least treated as living creatures.

Story from Chicago Tribune
2/14/2012, 6:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to TexasMadness   Send PM to TexasMadness
 
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Re: News: McDonald's calls for phasing out pig gestation crates


That's good news. Interesting that McDonald's actually cares enough about consumer opinion to put pressure on their suppliers. That means that speaking up can be effective, after all.

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Re: News: McDonald's calls for phasing out pig gestation crates


I hope ALL big markets now follow suit! emoticon

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Re: News: McDonald's calls for phasing out pig gestation crates


This is really neat! I'm glad they are pushing. They are a big enough voice that not only may they have enough of an influence on the pork industry, but they may have smaller (or even larger) restaurant/grocery chains willing to follow suit! How awesome would that be???? emoticon

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TexasMadness Profile
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Re: News: McDonald's calls for phasing out pig gestation crates


I've been reading up on this a bit more, just to get a better idea of what this means. Sometimes companies can make a big announcement that appeals to the public sense of good, but it doesn't really mean anything. So I wanted to dig in. Just some more info:

Originally, I said 30% of pigs are kept in crates...while that is true, I think it's better (more informative) to say that 60-70% of pregnant females are kept in them - this just gives you a better feel for the magnitude of the practice.

These above figures are for the US. The UK and Sweden have banned gestation crates and the entire EU has a phase out program in place, having them banned entirely (after the 4th week of pregnancy) as of 2013. Couldn't find any info on the prevalence of their use right now.

8 US states have already banned their use.

Also - this one really shocked me - McDonald's purchases a mere 1% of US pork! I know they are a 'hamburger' joint, but I was sure that figure would be higher!

Just before a sow gives birth, they are moved to 'farrowing crates' (farrow means to give birth in the pig world). These are only a teeny bit wider - just to allow the sow to completely lie on her side so she can nurse the piglets which are kept in an adjacent pen. The theory is that they prevent the pig from lying on, and crushing to death, her piglets. These crates are NOT being phased out. They are banned in Sweden and reports show that there is no difference in piglet mortality rate.

So...good and bad. McDonalds is not the big player I thought they were, but still it will help tens of thousands of pigs. Also, it will only help DURING pregnancy (which, since they force them to do two litters a year is about 8 out of 12 months) and not during farrowing or nursing. On the other hand, this is a big public move with lots of publicity. It's actually the THIRD such move but I never heard of the other two since they weren't 'McDonalds'.

Speaking of the other two: Smithfield, the largest pork producer in the US (I could only guess its about 20% - 17 million pigs a year), is phasing out the crates by 2017 in favor of open housing. I'm sure the pigs will still be very crowded, but again - incremental steps forward! They announced this in December.

Hormel - the makers of Spam - are also phasing them out by 2017 (they do about 50,000 pigs a year). However, they also farm in 2 states that have just passed legislation to ban them by 2017, so this is more of a publicity thing if you ask me. They farm in a third state with no such band, but will be phasing those out as well, so they are doing slightly more than is required of them!

So this does appear to be an industry wide trend!
2/15/2012, 9:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to TexasMadness   Send PM to TexasMadness
 


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