According to the company Web site, Tim Hortons will require suppliers to provide plans and timelines for phasing out gestation stalls for sows by the end of 2012. The enclosures are so small the pigs are unable to move around, let alone root, wallow, graze or give normal attention to their piglets.
By the end of 2013, the company also intends to buy at least 10% of their eggs from suppliers with enriched housing systems that “allow for natural hen behaviours such as nesting, scratching and perching, and similar housing systems are already the standard in the European Union.” That translates into some 10 million eggs that will come from more humane sources.
The volume of pork and eggs Tim Hortons sells creates challenges in moving toward more humane suppliers. Factory farming is the norm for the livestock industry. The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals estimates 98 percent of the country’s 26 million egg-laying hens are kept in battery cages and that “the vast majority” of Canada’s 1,440,000 sows are raised in stalls.
That means the supply of humanely raised chickens and sows is tiny in comparison with the demand for eggs and pork. While Tim Hortons’ announcement still leaves millions of animals in horrendous conditions, it is nevertheless a step in the right direction and further proof that consumer pressure can lead to change.
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