With increasing attention being placed on gestation-sow housing, there is a growing need for answers. It certainly was a hot topic at this year’s National Pork Industry Forum where National Pork Producers Council delegates passed a resolution supporting a comprehensive study and evaluation of current sow-housing options.
Pork Act Delegates, who align with the National Pork Board and National Pork Checkoff, also passed an “advisement” to investigate gestation-sow housing research. That request goes to the full board, which will determine action needed and any funding allocations. They also will look into public relations and communication needs surrounding the issue.
Both producer-based actions come on the heels of recent challenges and questions by restaurateurs, retailers and others in the food chain who are starting to set policies regarding which systems producers should use to house gestating sows.
NPPC’s review will rely on leading experts from the fields of animal well-being, animal science and veterinary medicine. It will start with a scientific literature review to determine what research has been done and the answers already in hand. The reviewers will then determine if additional research is needed and in exactly which areas.
McDonald’s announced in February that it wants its U.S. pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestation-sow stalls. The fast-food restaurant asked its suppliers to submit plans by May regarding how they will phase out the stalls. Wendy’s took similar action in March.
According to NPPC, the American Veterinary Medical Association supports the use of both individual sow housing and group housing as appropriate for ensuring sow well-being.
The findings of the NPPC-directed research effort will be submitted to the delegates at the 2014 National Pork Forum.