Scientists have determined that the immobilization cages called “gestation crates” cause pigs immense suffering, and food retailers are right to ban these devices from their pork supply chains (“Individual pens for sows’ safety,” Sept. 30).
Pigs are intelligent, curious creatures, and forcing them to live in a cage barely larger than their own body leads to severe physical and psychological trauma, a fact documented in the scientific literature. Renowned animal scientist and pork industry adviser, Temple Grandin, states: “Sows can’t turn around in a gestation crate and that’s no way to spend their whole life.” As one of the many animal scientists who agree with Grandin, I’m pleased to see McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Safeway and many other companies taking action on this issue. Nine states have banned this cruel practice, and major pork producers, including Smithfield and Hormel, are moving to higher animal welfare, group housing systems, demonstrating that the alternative is feasible. Instead of continuing to defend these gestation crates, the pork industry should be working to phase them out.
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