Sows are placed in pens for profits, not safety

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: October 6 2012 | 10:05 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 1:35 am in
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Regarding a guest column by Janeen Salak-Johnson, Sept. 30, “Individual pens for sows’ safety”: That headline is misleading. It should have read “Individual pens ensure more owner’s profit.”

As a member of the Humane Society of the United States, and of PETA, I take exception to Ms. Johnson’s statement that “these animal rights groups have a vegan agenda.” Animal farmers always use the same scare tactic, that humane groups want to put farmers out of business. This is not true. Most members ask only for humane treatment and humane slaughter for the animals raised for consumption.

Johnson is an associate professor of stress physiology and animal well-being, and yet apparently sees nothing wrong with keeping pregnant sows in a crate so tiny that the animal must spend its entire time standing or lying on a hard, slatted floor, without even being able to turn around. Even the most novice animal owner realizes that this is not for the sow’s safety, but it is for the bottom line. If a sow cannot turn around or lay down in a different position, she is less liable to step on or lay down on one of her piglets.

One would think that an associate professor of animal well-being would have mentioned that pigs have a higher intelligence than even our pet dogs, and certainly feel stress, fear and pain.

Johnson also states that the American Association of Swine Veterinarians say that crating sows is neither oppressive nor abusive. Of course — they make most of their income from these large factory farms.

Carole S. Gauger

Cedar Rapids

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