Welfare Not Necessarily Legislation-Ensured

CANADA - A researcher with the University of Manitoba suggests the legislative approach to addressing public concerns related the welfare of animals raised for food does not necessarily ensure the welfare of those animals, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 14 December 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

In response to public concerns over the welfare of swine raised for food, several North American pork processors are in the process of phasing out the use of gestation stalls for long-term housing of pregnant sows.

Dr Laurie Connor, the head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Animal Science, told those on hand last week for Hog and Poultry Days 2010 the consuming public has increasing expectations that all livestock species raised for food are done so in a manner that allows the animals to express normal behavior and is increasingly reluctant to purchase product that's had anything to do with sows in stalls.

Dr Laurie Connor-University of Manitoba

Basically we've certainly seen in the United States where there has been public and some would say probably sort of activist pressure that has been very effective in getting state legislation to prohibit the use of confined housing for both poultry as well as swine, such the California and also now it tends to have moved into mid-west, various states.

You sort of wonder where is the tipping point where it is going to become a national sort of situation.

Certainly in Canada we don't have that knowledge that we are close to legislation but it's something I think that most people would want to avoid because just legislating a ban does not do anything towards ensuring the all important welfare nor certainly the economic viability of an industry.

Dr Connor suggests there is a recognition that conversion to group housing is necessary to stay in the marketplace.

She says by working together, it will be possible to identify the best approach for each individual farm and she's confident those who plan to stay in the industry will find ways to successfully convert.

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