For most females, becoming pregnant is a joyous experience, bringing with it all the hopes and joys of delivering a precious newborn into the world.
Not so for female pigs in Canada.
Instead, once they become pregnant, mother pigs are kept in cages called gestation crates for four months, before being moved to a different cage to give birth. Then the cycle repeats itself, as they are re-impregnated and stuck back in a gestation crate.
As you can see from the photo below, these cages are so tiny that the animals cannot even turn around.
Here’s how The New York Times’ Mark Bittman describes them:
“A gestation crate is an individual metal stall so small that the sow cannot turn around; most sows spend not only their pregnancies in crates, but most of their lives. For humans, this would qualify as ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ and even if you believe that pigs are somehow ‘inferior,’ it’s hard to rationalize gestation crates once you see what they look like.”
It’s clear that this inhumane and unethical practice is wrong and must end.
Ryan Gosling agrees.
The Canadian actor has spoken up for farmed animals before: he has urged the USDA to stop allowing slaughterhouses to kill chickens and turkeys by slowly suffocating them with foam, and he has written to the National Milk Producers Federation, calling for an end to painful dehorning of cows through burning or the use of sharp tools.
Now, in a July 11 article for The Globe and Mail entitled ‘A tiny cage is not a life,’ Gosling calls for an end to the cruel confinement of female pigs. A Canadian himself, Gosling applauded Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council’s decision to stop allowing female pigs to be confined to crates for “nearly their entire lives.”
However, he points out that there is a problem: a loophole in the new laws that would still allow for the infliction of serious mental and physical harm on the animals.
Gosling writes in The Globe and Mail:
“As written, the draft still allows the pork industry to lock pigs in gestation crates for up to five weeks at a time,” he writes. “Over a pig’s short life, which is just four years long, this amounts to about nine months of solitary confinement in a cage so small she can’t even turn her own body around.
“Pigs in tiny crates suffer beyond anything most of us can easily imagine. They are unable even to turn around for weeks at a time, so that their muscles and bones deteriorate. And these extremely social and intelligent animals lose their minds from being denied any social or psychological stimulation at all.”
According to Farm Sanctuary and Humane Society International/Canada, more than 60 of North America’s largest pork buyers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Tim Hortons have made commitments to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains within the next two to nine years. Canada’s new Code of Practice will take effect in 2014.
The process has been criticized by veterinarians, animal protection advocates, consumers and even major food retailers as inhumane and unnecessary.
No animal should have to endure such torture. If you agree that mother pigs should not be treated so cruelly, please stand with Ryan Gosling and sign our petition demanding that the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) put an end to the cruel confinement of female pigs in gestation crates.
And thank you.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock