Experts widely agree that confining pigs in narrow gestation crates that are barely bigger than their bodies causes immense suffering. Welfare concerns have already prompted the entire European Union (effective 2013) and eight US states to phase out this barbaric system of confinement.
Several major US companies are also moving away from the use of gestation crates, including Smithfield Foods and Cargill. Hormel recently announced that it will replace gestation crates with group sow housing at its three “Hormel Foods-owned farms,” which is an encouraging first step, but this policy must be applied to the hundreds of independently-owned facilities ultimately supplying Hormel as well, including Hawkeye Sow Centers (HSC) in Leland, IA, which is the subject of a recent undercover investigation by Compassion Over Killing that reveals cruel and inhumane treatment of thousands of pregnant and nursing piglets. Visit COK.net to watch the video.
With the recent news that McDonald’s—one of the biggest buyers of pork in the US—is moving to end gestation crate confinement of pigs in its US supply chain, the writing for this inhumane practice is on the wall. It’s time for Hormel to extend its new gestation crate policy to all of its suppliers.