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March 20, 2013

HSI/Canada Welcomes Pork Processor Olymel’s Announcement to Abandon Controversial Pig Gestation Crates

Canada’s second-largest pork producer says Canada and U.S. should follow suit

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Retailers and producers are increasingly moving away from the use of cruel gestation crates. Christian Lohman/iStockphoto

MONTREAL — Humane Society International/Canada welcomes Quebec-based pork processor Olymel’s recent decision to progressively phase out the use of gestation crates for pregnant sows in breeding facilities by 2022. These cages are roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies and are designed to prevent them from even turning around.

Olymel’s move follows nine U.S. states and the European Union banning the controversial pig cages, which have also been condemned by nearly 50 major food retailers, including Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and Burger King, as well as by other major pork producers like Maple Leaf and Smithfield Foods.

The company wrote in a statement on its new policy: “Olymel believes that a ban on the use of gestation crates is inevitable in the medium and long term. Canada, along with the U.S., must follow suit. Our company believes that the entire pork production sector will have to respond positively to the demands of an increasing number of domestic and international clients who favour pork products originating from facilities which do not use crates to house pregnant sows. Numerous world renowned experts are in favour of a ban on gestation crates in order to allow sows to better express natural behaviours, benefit from greater freedom of movement, better socialization and a higher level of welfare.”

Sayara Thurston, campaigner with HSI/Canada said, “Olymel’s decision further highlights the fact that gestation crates have no future in the pork industry. No pregnant sow should spend even one day in a cruel gestation crate, and we encourage the rest of the industry to heed Olymel’s call and take immediate steps to shift away from their use.”

HSI/Canada highlights the importance of Olymel’s decision in view of the ongoing review of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs in Canada. If the updated Code is to be relevant for Canadian producers and respected in international markets, the Code Development Committee must take in to account the overwhelming global trend away from the use of gestation crates and include a timeline for the complete elimination of these confinement systems from the Canadian pork industry.


  • More than one million breeding sows are kept on Canadian farms, the majority of them confined in cages know as gestation crates.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”


Media Contact: Dean Pogas, HSI Canada: 514-395-2914

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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