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June 1, 2013

Canada Set to Ban Lifelong Confinement of Pigs in Inhumane Cages as Retailers and Consumers Oppose Practice

HSI/Canada lauds historic development as beginning of end to practice

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Let's make gestation crates a thing of the past. HSI

MONTREAL — Humane Society International/Canada applauds the important progress made by the National Farm Animal Care Council as it releases the draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs. Now released for public consultation, the draft Code would improve animal welfare in pork production nationwide by eliminating the perpetual confinement of pigs during pregnancy in controversial gestation crates—cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies designed to prevent them from even turning around.

“HSI/Canada welcomes the National Farm Animal Care Council’s recognition that the lifelong confinement of pigs in tiny crates must end in Canada’s pork industry,” said Sayara Thurston, campaigner with Humane Society International/Canada. “While there is still significant room for improvement in the Code of Practice, we look forward to engaging with the public and with NFACC throughout the consultation period to address the most concerning issues. These include the continued allowance for some confinement of mother pigs during their pregnancies and a long phase out period of gestation crates that does not reflect recent decisions by some of Canada’s largest pork buyers.”

Take action now: Speak out for mother pigs.

Gestation crates, currently standard in pork production, have come under fire from veterinarians, family farmers, animal welfare advocates, legislators, scientists, consumers and food retailers. A recent national poll in Canada showed that 84 percent of Canadians support a complete phase out of the use of these confinement systems.

In April, the Retail Council of Canada and eight of Canada’s largest retailers—Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Safeway Canada, Loblaw, Metro, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys and Co-op Atlantic—committed to sourcing fresh pork products from alternatives to gestation crates over the next nine years. Two of the three largest pork producers in Canada—Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods—have already announced that they will shift away from gestation crates within the next four-to-nine years. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, also announced a similar policy within the next four years.

The new Code of Practice will take effect in 2014, at which time the construction of new gestation crate operations throughout Canada would be prohibited. As the Code of Practice currently stands, producers will have to eliminate the lifelong confinement of pigs in gestation crates by instead housing them in groups by 2024. The new draft of the Code of Practice will be open for consultation for the next 60 days.


  • Nine U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to ban the continual gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.
  • 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.”
  • More than 50 of North America’s largest pork buyers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Tim Hortons have made commitments eliminating gestation crates from their supply chains within the next two-to-nine years. Meanwhile, many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.


Media Contact: Dean Pogas, HSI/Canada, 514.395.2914, dpogas@hsi.org

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation, farm animal welfare and animals in research. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International which, together with its partners, constitutes one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsicanada.ca

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