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Cruel Gestation Crates Are On Their Way Out

Cruel Gestation Crates Are On Their Way Out

McDonald’s has recently joined the list of fast-food restaurants and wholesalers taking steps to trash gestation crates and improve the standard of living for pregnant sows at pork production facilities.

The Humane Society of the United States has been lobbying the pork and restaurant industries to phase out gestation crates. Burger King was the first on board, followed by Safeway, Wendy’s and Denny’s. This week Kroger’s, the nation’s largest grocery chain, accelerated its phase-out plan. Wholesalers Smithfield, Cargill and Hormel have also made noises about phasing out some percentage of gestation crates some day.

McDonald’s originally announced in February that it would phase out gestation crates, but only last week committed to a timetable for ending its purchases from wholesalers that use gestation crates.

Sadly, McDonald’s timetable is ridiculously long: ten years. That means that generations upon generations of sows will suffer the torture of gestation crates:

Gestation crates are small metal cages only two feet wide that prevent pregnant pigs from turning around and even lying down comfortably. Sows spend most of their adult lives in these crates as they are inseminated soon after they give birth and thus kept pregnant over four out of every five months. Gestation crates cripple pregnant pigs and cause obesity. The fumes and toxins produced from the concentration of so many animals in one space [who must urinate and defecate where they stand] sicken them (and the humans who “take care of” them). Pigs are smart animals, and the constant confinement, lack of activity or stimulation, and pain lead to neurotic behaviors like biting the bars of their cages over and over, or chewing on nothing.

The industry seems to be reaching a consensus that gestation crates are no longer politically or commercially viable, but eliminating gestation crates does not mean that life will be hunky-dory for pigs raised for food. For starters, they are slaughtered young, and they are bred to grow so large that they suffer health problems. Then there are practices that no one seems to be phasing out like tail docking without anesthetic, denying pigs access to the outdoors and the opportunity to engage in instinctual behaviors like rooting in the ground, keeping sows pregnant nearly their entire lives and barring nursing sows from nurturing their young by imprisoning them in tiny farrowing crates.

The Humane Society of the U.S. is making headway in its battle against gestation crates, but there are so many more battles to be fought just to make the lives of animals raised for food bearable — not to mention the ultimate battle to end the exploitation of animals for food.

Related Stories:

Burger King Phases Out Battery Cages and Gestation Crates

Horrific Conditions for Factory-Farmed Chickens Exposed

Another State Bans Veal and Gestation Crates!

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Photo credit: BananaStock

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108 comments

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10:44AM PST on Jan 8, 2013

This is horrible and about sometime that people stop this crap!!

5:16AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

a bannir mac do dégueulasse c est honteux

2:53PM PST on Jan 6, 2013

Let us get rid of cruelty towards animals; they are part of our world and our life.
Always we should appreciate animals in this case porks, by the way, they are very intelligent.
They are sentient beings that feel love and suffer with the cruelty they have been treated.
Consciousness is very much needed.

6:32AM PST on Dec 12, 2012

Go VEGETARIAN or VEGAN! That is the best way to stop animal cruelty.

8:50PM PDT on Sep 18, 2012

Taking 10 years to phase out these crates is RIDICULOUS! This should be done right away - give them 2 years maximum! Actually, they should be boycotted or heavily FINED EVERY DAY starting TODAY for being so lazy about changing this!

11:28AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

Come on McDonald's 10 years, let me know when you have fully implemented this and I will revisit a restaurant but til than there are others that already have done this that will get my business. I will spread the word thru my friends and family.

9:11PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

So glad to learn these gestation crates are getting done away with !!!
Shared on Facebook.

12:01PM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

I hate gestation crates. Pigs are intelligent animals and this has to be torture for them.

4:56AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

It's terrible that such a great company like Mc Donald's says first a thing and than changes idea, Im' already vegetarian but I won't let my kids go and eat at their restaurants, no respect, none of my money

4:56AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

It's terrible that such a great company like Mc Donald's says first a thing and than changes idea, Im' already vegetarian but I won't let my kids go and eat at their restaurants, no respect, none of my money

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