Canada has announced new regulations for its pork industry that will end the practice of keeping pregnant sows in gestation crates, cramped cages that restrict movement and considered cruel by many. The measure, called the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, was developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council and requires that facilities built or renovated after July 1st, 2014 use group housing systems for pregnant sows -- a more humane alternative to gestation crates.
Animal advocates have already come out in favor of the policy, which will cover Canada's 1 million breeding sows.
"This is a watershed moment for farm animals in Canada and throughout North America," said Sayara Thurston, campaign manager with Humane Society International. "It signals the beginning of the end of archaic, extreme confinement systems that consumers simply don't support and which other countries have long-since banned. There is still much advancement needed to improve the welfare of pigs raised on Canadian farms, but this Code of Practice is a monumental first step."
The European Union banned crates like these in 2013. While private companies like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Tim Hortons have already made this switch for their suppliers, the U.S. still lags behind -- only nine states have passed laws to ban the continual gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.