NSPCA reacts to pork industry claims | Fin24
 
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NSPCA reacts to pork industry claims

Nov 29 2013 16:32
Fin24
Johannesburg - Pork farmers in SA do not require four more years to change to the open pen system, the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) told Fin24.

The NSPCA made known its opposition to the practice of gestation crates in 2006, during discussions with the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo), insisting the practise be phased out before 2011.

A gestation crate is a metal crate, usually with a bare floor, which is so narrow that the sow cannot turn around and can only stand up.

Currently, pregnant sows are kept in gestation crates for most of the pregnancy, about 107 days.

Sappo and the NSPCA subsequently came to a deadlock during a meeting where the phase out date was discussed.

Sappo stated that they have committed to a phase out by 2020, but the NSPCA remained firm on the 2016 deadline.

“The deadline has already been extended from 2011 to 2016. We feel that industry does not require four more years to remove bars or provide an open pen system to provide sufficient space for a pregnant sow,” said Nazareth Appalsamy, National Inspector of the Farm Animal Protection Unit at the NSPCA.

“We have also been in talks with large retailers who are showing their support in meeting the 2016 deadline.”

Campaign

The NSPCA has approached the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to officiate the phase out date through policy and/or regulation and also handed over a petition with more than 7 500 signatures from the public, calling on the abolishment of the practice of gestation crates.

“According to research conducted in 1994, group housing for dry sows is beneficial to their welfare as well as to the farmers’ bottom line,” said National Farm Animal Unit Manager, Andries Venter.

The practice of using gestation crates has been shown to cause an elevated risk of urinary tract infections, weakened bones, overgrown hooves, and lameness of the sows.

The restriction has also been shown to induce stereotypies, repetitive movements, such as rocking back and forth or swaying.

Crated pigs are shown to exhibit chronic stress manifested by increased cortisol concentrations.

The crating of sows during pregnancy has already been banned in the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, and some US states. The phasing out period in the EU ended in 2012.

The NSPCA's farm animal unit embarked on a public campaign in February 2013, where the practice was brought to the attention of the consumers, with several industry role players being bombarded by public emails.

Sappo's view

Simon Streicher, CEO of Sappo told Fin24 that pork producers have accepted that gestation stalls need to be changed and up to 45% of pork producers in SA have already made the change – at great expense.

He said it costs around R2 000 per sow to convert from crates to open pens.  A farmer with 2 000 sows, for instance, will therefore have to pay in the region of R4m to make the conversion.

“Sappo maintains that the deadline for changing from sow crates to open pens is too tight and can only be completed by 2020,” Streicher told Fin24.

“To add to the problem, the producers who most certainly will struggle the most to meet the deadline – is the emerging farmers, who simply do not have the necessary cash to make such a change.”

Sappo believes this is an important, largely untold story of the impact of the conversion process.

- Fin24

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agriculture  |  pork
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