46257. That was the number assigned to a pig at a factory farm I worked at in Manitoba.
Like millions of pigs who are raised and killed for pork in Canada, 46257 spent most of her life confined to a filthy, metal gestation crate barely larger than her own body. In such a small cage, she was unable to walk, run, play, root in the soil, see the sun, breathe fresh air, or do nearly anything that would make her life even remotely worth living.
After meeting 46257 and seeing her vibrant personality shining through, despite the years of torment she endured locked in a tiny cage, I am compelled to tell her story.
I am an investigator with Mercy For Animals Canada, and for nearly 10 weeks I worked undercover at Puratone, a factory farm that supplies pork to Sobeys, Superstore/Loblaws, Metro, and Walmart Canada. The misery and abuse that I witnessed at this factory farm will haunt me for the rest of my life.
After years locked in a tiny torture chamber, 46257 became so sick and weak that she could no longer stand. She developed heavy bruising and sores on her face from being forced to lie pressed against the bars of her cage.
I brought her deteriorating condition to my supervisor's attention repeatedly - only on the fifth day did he finally act. He cursed at her, kicked her and lifted her by her tail stump to make her climb a steep ramp. There, he forced 46257 to step over another sow he'd just killed and fired a metal rod into her skull. I could only watch as she lay kicking and blinking, conscious and suffering, for minutes before she finally died. Her death, like her life, was neither swift nor painless.
While all of the abuses I witnessed at this pig factory farm were incredibly cruel, confining pregnant pigs for life in cages so small they can barely move is probably the worst. In fact, animal welfare experts and veterinarians around the world consider gestation crates to be so cruel that they have been banned in the entire European Union, Australia, New Zealand and in nine U.S. states.
Even major retailers like Costco, Safeway, McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, and over 40 others in Canada and the United States have taken a stand against gestation crates and are demanding pork suppliers do away with them. But other grocery chains, including Sobeys, Superstore/Loblaws, Metro and Walmart Canada, continue to support this blatant cruelty to animals by purchasing pork from factory farms that cram pregnant pigs in these cruel cages.
These companies have the power and ethical responsibility to reject this abusive factory farming practice by immediately adopting policies that require suppliers to phase out their use of gestation crates.
Please sign my petition to ask Sobeys, Superstore/Loblaws, Metro and Walmart Canada to do the right thing by 46257 and prohibit gestation crates in their pork supply chains.
MFA Canada Undercover Investigator
I was shocked and horrified by the animal abuse recently documented on hidden camera by Mercy For Animals Canada at one of your pork suppliers – Puratone. Meat from these abused animals is currently being sold in your stores under the Maple Leaf Foods and Freybe brands of pork.
I am disgusted to see how pregnant pigs are kept locked in narrow, metal gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies. In such intensive and unrelenting confinement, these intelligent and social animals are unable to even turn around, lie down comfortably, walk, or engage in other basic behaviours.
Recognizing their inherent cruelty, many of your major competitors have started demanding that their pork suppliers do away with gestation crates – including Safeway, McDonalds, Tim Hortons and over 30 other major retailers in Canada and the United States
It's time for your company to take a stand against egregious animal abuse by requiring all of your pork suppliers to phase out gestation crates.
Thank you for your time and consideration.