January 4, 2008
January 4, 2007 - The Colorado Pork Producers Association late last month decided to voluntarily phase-out sow gestation crates over the next decade. The group joins Smithfield Foods, the nation's largest pork producer, in taking such a step. Banning sow gestation crates has become a rallying cry for animal rights extremists, who successfully mounted ballot initiative campaigns against the practice in Florida in 2002, and more recently, in Arizona in 2006.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., associate professor of animal science with Colorado State University and an animal welfare expert who has worked with the livestock industry for decades, told Brownfield ending the use of sow gestation crates in pork production is the right thing to do. According to Grandin, the public just doesn't like sow gestation crates and that's reason enough to stop using them.
"Public opinion does matter," Grandin said. "I think there are some things we can educate the public. I think we've done a really poor job in communicating with the public," she added. "I think we need to be putting video tapes up on the Internet showing exactly how a farm works."
Grandin pointed out that the only Internet videos on animal handling readily accessible by consumers on such sites as YouTube tend to show examples of the worst kind of animal abuse.
"I've been around the industry for 35 years, and you know, we've got a lot of young people in the industry now that don't know anything different than sow stalls, but in the '70s, all the sows were living in pens and they were just fine," said Grandin. "And Smithfield switched over and things have been working fine." Reprinted from U.S. Animal Health Association